Moshi — KILIMANJARO Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) has come out with an initiative to diversify its business and will procure various crops in addition to coffee.
In an exclusive interview with the 'Daily News on Saturday', KNCU Commercial Manager, Mr Godfrey Massawe said the move is a result of coffee prices and quantity produced going down over the last few years. KNCU management is currently in advanced talks with Guang Zhou Import and Export Company for the purchase of soya beans.
The Chinese company would like to use KNCU as its agent in the purchase of soya beans, demanding 600,000 tonnes per annum. Mr Massawe said given the volume of the demand, the company is ready to acquire land for growing soya beans, and KNCU has initiated talks with Kilimanjaro regional authorities.
"The demand is huge and the company is ready to join hands so that, apart from purchasing from already existing growers, we acquire our own land and produce. Ideally we would need 300,000 hectares, the Chinese officials who left on Friday prefer mechanised farming.
"The good thing is that Regional Commissioner's office is happy with the idea and we are having another meeting next week," he said. Mr Massawe noted also that KNCU is already working as an agent for Tandahimba Newala Cooperative Union (Tanecu) Limited for cashew nuts.
Mr Massawe said 20 years ago the KNCU used to procure about 19,000 tonnes of coffee as opposed to a mere 1,400 tonnes during the 2012/13 season.
"This is the Board's initiative, as it is now evident KNCU cannot rely on coffee alone. Members were asked for their endorsement in the 31st Annual General Meeting (AGM) and they agreed. We have been evaluating several options and we are upbeat to be in the market to procure various crops," said Mr Massawe.