FARMERS in Kagera Region have every reason to smile.
Missenyi District Council will soon start implementing Sa plan which will enable coffee farmers to pocket more money.
Plans are underway to boost productivity through increased use of inputs, introduction of pests and disease resistant trees as well as setting up small and medium scale coffee processing plants.
Farmers are encouraged to plant improved coffee varieties and avoid spreading their post harvest coffee on earth.
The Council in collaboration with Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) at Maruku, in Bukoba Rural District distributed about 32,000 improved coffee seedlings to the farmers in efforts to revamp the crop.
Nkenge Member of Parliament (MP) Diodorus Kamala revealed that plans were underway to establish coffee nurseries.
Adding that a recent census about 14,264 farmers were actively engaged in coffee production maintaining an estimated 4,557 hectares with 1,483,513 robusta trees and 22,018 arabica trees.
Farmers unanimously agreed to adopt “Fair Trade” practices as an effective strategy to deliver its smallholder farmers from poverty.
For quite a long time coffee farmers did not benefit much from coffee farming due to various reasons including low coffee quality.
We are now focusing on revitalizing coffee production including irrigation….to meet global market standards for coffee.
He was optimistic that with proper supervision farmers could double coffee production, work with other stakeholders to observe fair trade practices as a way to save them from buyers who were exploiting them by manipulating and paying them very low prices.
Through social premiums paid through Fair Trade the coffee farmers would benefit through increased and quality coffee.
Dr Kamala was visibly disappointed by reports indicating that some private buyers had turned the direct coffee export exercise into direct purchase by buying coffee straight from farmers at the farm level.
This trend should stop forthwith as it posed a risk to coffee production also advising farmers to diversify and start growing sugarcane and sunflower as alternative cash crops.
Councils should formulate by-laws to protect coffee crop.
Utilising Constituency Fund the Council introduced three alternative cash crops distributing about 240 kilograms of Sunflower covering 34 acres and also distributed Chia Seeds and Soya.
Deputy Minister for Agriculture Innocent Bashungwa revealed that establishment of Crop Stabilization Fund (CSF) will save farmers from falling price of coffee and enable them to get attractive price.
Bashungwa, who is also MP for Karagwe also hinted that the government was working on modalities that would enable coffee farmers to get second payment.
We are still working on the matter.
But, I am optimistic that the farmers will get some payment as plans were being finalized to stage auction in Kagera Region.
He, however, challenged farmers to increase coffee production also appealing to Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI), to multiply improved coffee seedlings and supply them to farmers for the planting season.
Concerted efforts were needed to increase the number of coffee farmers from the current 130,000 farmers taking into consideration that the region has a population of about 2.8million.
Government has banned exportation of raw coffee, insisting that traders will only be allowed to sell the produce outside the country, after addingvalue to it.
Besides the ban, all Councils growing coffee in the country must ensure that they are maintaining blocks containing not less than 200,000 seedlings before the end of next month.
Top officials from the Ministry of Agriculture will come to inspect whether the order has been implemented.
All coffee being produced in the country should be processed before it is exported.
It is strictly prohibited to export coffee unless it has gone through a value addition in order to acquire better prices in the outside market.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the move will help in the growth of the value chain as well as protecting the country’s industrial investment.
The government under President John Magufuli is firm in safeguarding the welfare of farmers in the country.
Likewise, the PM called upon Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS) leadership to ensure that farmers are being registered along with compiling their other details like the size of the farms, production capacity and should ensure that details are stored well in computers.
Starting this season all coffee auction will be conducted in respective zones which include Moshi (Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Tanga, Manyara).
Kagera (Kigoma, Geita, Kagera, Mara).
Songwe (Rukwa, Mbeya, Iringa, Katavi) and Ruvuma in Mbinga.
The move is aimed at increasing transparency in the business and give room for farmers to know the prices and obtain their payments on time.
Farmers can participate in any of the auctions so long as they abide by the laws.
The government is committed to strengthening the growth of coffee production in the country for everyone who is involved to benefit and add value to the cash crop.
This step has been taken to avoid rampant thefts that resulted in farmers getting meagre prices.
The private sector have also been allowed to participate in the auction and buy the crop at competitive prices.
During his recent tour in Kagera Region, Majaliwa directed Cooperative Unions in the region to ensure that by October 20, last year all payments to coffee farmers should be cleared while by October 30 all coffee should have been collected from the villages.
Majaliwa said the directives have been given by the government, saying all farmers will have to follow the new system, which require them to sell their coffee through the cooperative unions in their areas.
We are doing this basically to protect farmers from exploitation (Butula) and ensure that they are getting fair prices.
Councils should set aside funds deducted from coffee levies for improving coffee crop including buying improved coffee seedlings.
Zonal Manager of Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) at Maruku, Dr Nyabisi Ng’homa, revealed that four coffee varieties resistant to the Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD) have been released by researchers namely Maruku 1, Maruku 2, Bukoba 1 and Bukoba 2.
In the past 15 years, about 14,340,000 coffee seedlings were multiplied and distributed to coffee growers for the replanting programme.
47,710 clonal mother trees of Robusta varieties resistant to Coffee Wilt Disease (CWD) have been established.
These clonal mother trees had capacity to produce 4,772,000 coffee seedlings annually by 2017/2018.
The target is to establish 53,000 clonal mother trees with capacity of producing 53,000,000 coffee seedlings by 2020.
Kagera Region produces an average of 21,000 tonnes of coffee annually.
However, for quite a long time the average production stood at 0.32 kg per tree due to lack of proper management.
Most of the coffee trees are 60 years old.
Coffee is grown in Bukoba, Muleba, Karagwe, Kyerwa, Ngara and Missenyi disricts in the western areas along Lake Victoria.
This constitutes 30 per cent of the total coffee production in Tanzania.
Kagera Region has three Cooperative Unions- Kagera Cooperative Union (KCU), Karagwe District Cooperative Union (KDCU), and Biharamulo Cooperative Union (BCU).
Tanzania is projected to increase coffee production from the present average of 50,000 tonnes a year to 100,000 tonnes by year 2021, thanks to the progressive efforts that are being made to replace old trees with improved varieties.
Coffee is vital to the economy of East and Central Africa, providing a major source of foreign exchange earnings and as a cash crop, supporting the livelihoods of millions involved in cultivation, processing, marketing and export.
Coffee exports earned the country USD 135 million (about 294.4bn/-) in foreign exchange during the 2015/16 farming season as the country produced 59,000 metric tonnes, which is above average annual production of 50,000 tonnes.
It is estimated that about 265,000 hectares is occupied by Arabica and Robusta coffee farms.
Average production for the past five years (2004/05-2008/09) is 51,777 tonnes of coffee.