Why coffee stakeholders meeting resuscitates farmers’ hopes

COFFEE stakeholders across the country have organised and staged the 13th National Coffee Stakeholders Meeting which was held at St Gasper Hotel and Conference Centre here in Dodoma on 23rd -24th June this year.

Attended by 300 stakeholders, the meeting saw day one being utilised in a unique way whereby various papers on improving the current state of coffee across the country being presented, discussed and the way forward being deduced all aiming at improving coffee productivity both quality wise and quantity wise the same to reach 300,000 tons come the year 2025/26.

Tossing the ball in these presentations was a paper looking at the contribution of CODEP-P project towards improving coffee agro- business in the Southern Highlands regions of Ruvuma, Songwe and Mbeya, presented by respective Project Coordinator Mr Rashid Bakari Malya.

Though this paper Mr Malya said the said project covers small holder coffee farmers the same being funded by the European Union and Sweden covering four years 2020-2024 and aiming at capacity building to Agricultural & Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS) to enable farmers participate in economic activities.

He stated in his paper that the said project aims at creating employment throughout the coffee value chain all aiming to realise income improvement to a total of 24,000 farmers.

On what have been achieved so far by the said project he said so far a total of 21,000 have been reached, a total of 7.1 million of the new varieties of Arabica coffee seedlings have been produced and distributed to farmers the same planted in a total of 1,926 hectares.

“Ninety (90) per cent of the Arabica coffee seedlings of the new varieties of Arabica coffee seedlings planted have survived, a total of 53 mother tree gardens started whereby expectations are such that by the end of 2024 a total of 2,786.9 tons of coffee will be produced “he said adding that a total of 60 Coffee Pulpery Units (CPU’s) will be rehabilitated.

Second in these presentations was a paper titled Sustainable Development of Robusta Coffee in Kagera which was presented by the Operation Manager of Café Africa Tanzania Mr Samora Mnyaonga.

Through this paper Mr Mnyaonga stated that the said project which started in 2019 and ending in 2024 aims at involvement of more youths and women in coffee production, rehabilitation of coffee farms, training of extension officers and distribution of the new varieties of Robusta coffee seedlings all aiming at increasing coffee production.

On what the said project   have realised so far he said to date a total of 458 extension officers have been trained, a total of 82 youths have been trained, a total of 308 farmers leaders have been trained, 29,890 old trees have been grafted while a total of 642,225 new varieties of Robusta coffee seedlings have been produced and distributed to farmers for planting in their respective farms.

“A total of 5,814 women and youths have been involved in this project, 25,843 farmers involved in financial services training while a total of 580 soil testing equipment’s have been distributed to extension officers and youths” he said adding that however, implementation of the said project was hindered by lack of adequate coffee seedlings, Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD) which was still a threat while the effects of climate change was still a challenge to coffee production.

Third in these presentations was a paper titled Contribution of Good Agricultural Practices towards increasing coffee productivity which was presented by a Research Officer from the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) Ms Suzana Mbwambo.

To start with in this paper Ms Mbwambo cautioned farmers across the country on the importance of choosing the new varieties of both Arabica and Robusta coffee seedlings which are of much important adding that failure to have such seedlings will result in much losses to farers.

She stated that such seedlings arte resistant to the coffee deadly diseases namely Coffee Berry Disease (CBD) and Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) for Arabica coffee and Coffee Wilt Disease for Robusta coffee.

“These coffee seedlings reduce production costs as less herbicides and fungicides is required, gives higher yields per unit area, produces beans of bigger bean sizes with good flavour liked by many people across the globe thus always fetching good prices in the world market” she said.

She further said planting of respective new varieties of coffee seedlings in farms followed by observing good agricultural practices assure farmers of good return which she named to be higher yields of quality coffee which always fetches competitive prices.

Naming respective good agricultural practices, she named them to be planting in recommended spacing; making sure the soil has the recommended types of nutrients; use of recommended types of fertilizers; using proper way of controlling pesticides and insects; the use of proper ways of conserving the soil and water; using the ten commandments of harvesting, fermentation, washing, drying, and transportation to curing plants.

She also said as the country have both the new varieties of Arabica and Robusta coffee seedlings coupled with good agricultural practices there is no worries the country will reach a production of 300,000 tons of coffee come the year 2025/26.

Fourth paper presented I this meeting was a paper titled Challenges facing improvement of coffee productivity and the way forward which was presented by Mr. Richard Mbaga an official from a non-governmental organization known as HRNS.

Through this paper he said much have been said in earlier presentations adding that his task was to add some few information’s.

He named the challenges to be effects of climate change; lack of extension officers; having a lot of old coffee trees; harmful insects; access to capital; fluctuation of prices in the world market; lack of clean water during fermentation and washing; ad poor coffee curing machines.

On ways to address these challenges he named them to be ways to combat the effects of climate change; agroforestry; improvement of extension services; capacity building to Agricultural and Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS); involvement of youths in the coffee value chain; training of farmers in agri-business and entrepreneurship; investment on the effective use of CPU’s and training farmers on the ten commandments of coffee production and processing.

On his side when presenting the fifth paper was the Vice Chairman of Tanzania Coffee Association (TCA), Mr. Davis Mahuru with his paper titled Challenges Facing Coffee Business in the year 2022/23.

Mr Mahuru started by giving a short history of TCA which dates back to the year 1997 when TCA started with 71 members.

He named the challenges being the introduced levy of Tshs 200 per kilogramme and Tshs 100 per kilogramme for Arabica and Robusta coffee respectively which were effected in mid-2022/23.

“These led to decrease in farmer’s prices in Direct Export Market, decrease in coffee auctions purchases and to this TCA recommends respective levies to be reduced by fifty (50) percent” he said.

Through his paper he stated that the current trend whereby coffee is being auctioned in zones have severe effects in the sense that there is an increase in the cost participation by buyers, decrease in the number of buyers/competition something which result in giving low prices to farmers, and to this he recommended for decentralisation of coffee auctions.

Winding up these paper presentations in this meeting was a paper by Mr. Amir Hamza titled challenges and opportunities in the marketing of coffee in the free area of business in Africa.

Mr Hamza started by giving a short history of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and why some African countries decided to have the said AfCFTA.

Mr Hamza took time to enlighten stakeholders in this meeting on the challenges facing AfCFTA and the way forward.

Concluding his presentations e said after breaking the existing business barriers for African countries to trade with each other Africa ca produce more coffee with good quality as it has plenty of land, manpower and clean water.

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