Stakeholders in the coffee industry have come up with a five-year Zimbabwe Coffee Sector Development Strategy to revive and boost production in former and new growing areas to improve livelihoods of more than 50 000 people. This came after a realisation that coffee, which used to be the fifth foreign currency earner, was declining due to consecutive droughts, limited supplementary irrigation infrastructure, limited funding, high cost of inputs and lack of expertise, among other factors.
The strategy involves the maintenance of existing coffee plantations, establishment of 4 700 hectares of coffee with women and youths participation and engaging in value addition and infrastructure development.
Funding is expected to come from foreign direct investments and the private sector.
Officiating at the Coffee Strategy Verification Workshop on Thursday, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Ignatius Chombo urged investors to take advantage of the conducive coffee-growing conditions in Zimbabwe to partner local farmers for the realisation of profit and growth of the economy.
He said the country had ideal climatic conditions and good soils to grow high-quality coffee that could compete effectively on the global stage.
"Coffee is an important export crop for Zimbabwe with tremendous potential for employment creation and generation of foreign currency", said Dr Chombo.
"The ministry will provide the necessary policy support to enable the growth of the coffee sub-sector and support research and development, including a dedicated extension services for the coffee sector."
Dr Chombo said the coffee strategy was in line with the national economic blueprint, Zim-Asset, while it was also being aligned to the Zimbabwe Agriculture Investment Plan, which is being finalised.
"Under both Zim-Asset and ZAIP, value addition is an important component", he said. This needed to be taken on board as some of the quick wins, together with market access-issues which remain major concerns for coffee farmers.
"The value chain approach would create synergies targeted at improving livelihoods of all coffee farmers, including women and youth farmers."
Zimbabwe produces Arabic coffee, which is grown mostly in the Eastern Highlands districts of Chipinge, Chimanimani, Mutare and Mutasa.