PETER Mwita (45) and his wife Joyce Peter have vowed to spend much of their time cultivating coffee, thanks to the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) for awarding the couples 1m/- after emerging the 2012 best coffee farmers in the Northern Tarime District.
The couples turned up to receive the award along with their son at a brief handing over ceremony held at Tarime District Commissioner's office and their mood could tell how they felt excited.
"We are indeed happy for being the best coffee farmers in Tarime and the award has motivated us to put more efforts and my wife is now spending much of her time on the farm," said Mwita shortly after receiving the 1m/- award from TCB late last week.
"This is my first time to enter the DC's office and I never expected to be here one day. This is very encouraging," Joyce said. The couples reside at the remote village of Nyarero where they own a two acres coffee farm.
Officials estimate that there are about 8,000 coffee farmers in Tarime District and the suitable arable land and climate is favourable for production of Arabica coffee. Tarime District Commissioner (DC), Mr John Henjelewe, commended the couples for emerging the best 2012 coffee farmers in the area.
"This should be a motivation for you to strive further in coffee farming. Always aim higher," the DC told Mwita and Joyce shortly after presenting them with the award. In addition to the 1m/- Mwita was given TCB's certificate of recognition during the occasion that was also attended by TCB's Mara Regional Zone Manager, Mr Melikiad Massawe, Tarime District Executive Director (DED), Mr Omar Athuman and District Agriculture, Cooperatives and Livestock Development Officer (DALDO), Mr Silvanus Gwiboha.
Unlike majority of Tarime residents, Mwita and Joyce depend on coffee as their major income. "The successes we have achieved from coffee farming are many. Coffee help us to meet education costs of our children and other necessary requirements," Joyce, a mother of four children said.
The couples have started building a modern house in the home village of Nyarero using money they earn from coffee. "We are even going to use part of the award to improve our coffee farm as well as buying some construction materials for our house," Mwita said.
They thanked the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) for sensitising and supporting them to cultivate new coffee varieties that are resistant to diseases such as coffee berry diseases (CBD). "We thank TaCRI so much and it is their support that made us win the award. The new coffee seed produce high yield and is not attacked by diseases," he said.
They are now planning to expand the farm from two to three acres by April, this year, according to Mr Mwita. TaCRI has an ambitious programme to introduce new coffee varieties and already hundreds of farmers have embarked on cultivation of the new coffee plants in the area.
However, officials estimate that still about 95 per cent of Tarime coffee farmers rely on old coffee plants which are prone to diseases. "TaCRI still has a huge task ahead to replace the old coffee plants with the new varieties," an official within coffee sector said. Lack of enough land to enable TaCRI produce more new coffee varieties seedlings is said to be the biggest challenge facing the programme.
Reports had it that authorities in Tarime are looking for a bigger piece of land to enable TaCRI establish the garden. Tarime DC hailed efforts being made by TCB and TaCRI to revive coffee production in the district in the recent years. TaCRI and TCB have in the recent years opened a zonal office to closely supervise development of coffee sector in the lake zone regions with Tarime being one of the key target areas.