TCB intervenes to rescue Kagera farmers

TANZANIA Coffee Board (TCB) has made a timely intervention to rescue Kagera farmers, following recent reports that almost 40 per cent of the coffee was sold through unofficial routes.

TCB Director General (DG), Mr Primus Kimaryo explained that the efforts taken include allowing Agricultural and Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS), in Karagwe and Kyerwa districts to conduct online coffee auctions in their respective areas.

He explained that during the 2022/2023 season, farmers in Kyerwa District produced 38,000 metric tonnes of coffee while farmers in Karagwe DPistrict produced 18,000 metric tonnes of coffee. Cumulatively, the farmers under Karagwe District Cooperative Union (KDCU), produced almost 56,000 metric tonnes of coffee equivalent to 73.7 per cent of the 76,000 metric tonnes produced in Kagera Region.

“The timely interventions have been taken to rescue Kagera farmers, following reports that almost 40 per cent of the coffee was sold through unofficial routes. AMCOS in Karagwe and Kyerwa districts have also been allowed to conduct online coffee auctions in their respective areas,” he said.

Mr Kimaryo elaborated that AMCOS in Karagwe and Kyerwa districts, which share borders with a neighbouring country, will be given money at the start of the 2023/2024 crop buying season to enable them to buy the coffee from the farmers.

“The smuggling of coffee to a neighbouring country and selling the coffee to middlemen was mainly caused by the delay by the two Cooperative Unions (KCU and KDCU), to pay the farmers on time, thus allowing middlemen to take a lion’s share in the coffee business,” he said.

For many decades Kagera Region has been identified in the minds of most Tanzanians as a banana plantain and land of coffee. The agriculture sector has consistently been dominant in the Kagera regional economy.

In a related development, Mr Kimaryo said the government in collaboration with other stakeholders including Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB), Cooperative Unions, Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TACRI), Café Africa Tanzania and the private sector is implementing a five-year strategic plan aimed to increase coffee production from 78,000 metric tonnes to 300,000 metric tonnes by 2025.

The plan goes in hand with producing 20 million improved coffee seedlings each year.

Kagera farmers produce robusta coffee which constitutes 50 per cent of the total coffee production in the country.  Coffee is grown in Bukoba, Muleba, Karagwe, Kyerwa, Ngara and Missenyi Districts in the western areas along Lake Victoria.

During the past three years coffee production in the region increased from 52,000 tonnes during 2018/2019 to 78,300 metric tonnes during 2020/2021 enabling the farmers to pocket about 96.4bn/-., he said.

Farmers are encouraged to adhere to best crop husbandry practices by uprooting and destroying through burning the affected coffee trees, farm cleanliness, mulching and timely use of inputs and fertilizers.

They should replace the old coffee trees in favour of the clonal coffee varieties which are resistant to coffee wilt disease (CWD), for increased yields and to earn more money.

The clonal varieties were high yielding and resistant to the coffee berry disease. A well-managed coffee plant could produce up to two kilogrammes enabling a farmer to pocket at least 6,000/- per kilogramme. Clonal coffee yields three times more coffee and is resistant to the coffee wilt disease.

The word clonal means that the coffee plants have been multiplied asexually from a single parent plant or clone.

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