17 June 2012

Tanzania: New Coffee Initiative Shows Positive Outcome

Moshi — The amended Tanzania Coffee Industry, Development Strategy 2011-2021 has indicated possible changes and might have a general socio-economic impact on the industry.

The Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) Director General, Eng. Adolph Kumburu told the 'Sunday News' in an exclusive interview that the following scenarios show that if the coffee strategy, which was recently approved by key coffee stakeholders was implemented, it would bring in additional revenue.

He added that at least more than 150 million US dollars will be realized in 10 consecutive years through export earnings. Eng. Kumburu explained that of the total 250 million dollars generated annually by the coffee industry, 75 per cent of the income would be redistributed to coffee farmers.

"This will almost double the previous income, which is more than 95 per cent for an estimated 400,000 households. It will help to reduce poverty and create a sustainable capacity for self improvement of the coffee industry," he said.

Meanwhile, the TCB boss noted that coffee production has continuously decreased, particularly in the northern zone due to ageing coffee trees and non-sustainable farming practices.

"Uncoordinated assistance from projects, research and extended services do not allow turning around the declining yields, yet coffee is increasingly seen by farmers as an economic activity that does not allow supporting livelihoods," he said, noting that coffee farmers should intensify intercropping practices which has contributed to a sharper decline in coffee yields or simply uproot coffee trees due to pressure on land, according to Eng. Kumburu.

He pointed out that in areas no other crop can be substituted, especially in the south and north west of the country. Production may continue to be active and profitable where large estates/nucleus estates allow for private sector investment and efficient marketing channels.

He said production tends to polarize on two opposite products, that is a low volume/ high price quality gourmet coffee and a generic 'filler' coffee for the bulk of production, only bought as a cheap substitute from Central American milds, whose only competitive advantage is a lower price and timing to market.

"The long term existence of the Tanzanian coffee sector is threatened as the overall volume of production has become so low that the roasters do not consider it any more as a potential ingredient to their blend.

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