TANZANIA Coffee Development Fund (TCDF) has announced that coffee seedlings produced by Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) will be sold at 150/- down from 300/-.
Being one of the main cash crops that bring foreign currency to the country, price reduction for coffee seedlings will help to revamp production and benefit both the government and growers. It is estimated that 265,000 hectares have both Arabica and Robusta coffee across the country.
For years, small-holder farmers have been decrying high price of coffee seedlings as one of major problems hindering production of the cash crop production in the country. As a result, farmers fail to raise production from 250 to 1,000 grammes of coffee beans per plant, as per TaCRI target.
It is obvious that TCDF move to reduce the prices will boost production and enable farmers to courageously face the remaining challenges.
Apart from high seedling prices, farmers have also been facing other challenges, including shortage of extension officers, fake pesticides and insecticides by dishonest traders.
According to TCDF Manager Jensen Natai, the move to slash price of coffee seedlings will benefit more small-holder farmers. Under this programme, small-holder farmers have been offered opportunity to buy up to 500 seedlings at 150/-.
However, farmers demanding more seedlings will have to buy at the normal price of 300/- With this move, it is obvious coffee growers across the country will benefit and probably, there will be a big boost in the area.
It is quite clear that climatic changes affect agriculture sector especially crop production. Shortages of rains and crop diseases have been major problems that impede agricultural production in the country.
The supply of hybrid coffee varieties that resist diseases at half price is a major boost to farmers and the country at large. TCDF says coffee is grown by about 450,000 households, accounting for 90 per cent of the total coffee produce.
The remaining 10 percent comes from the estates.
Indirectly coffee supports a living for six per cent (2.4 million) of the country population. This means slashing of seedling price will benefit about 450,000 families across the country, boosting income of large number of Tanzanians at individual level and generating foreign currency to the country.
Yes, with this move to revamp coffee production, the crop that provides employment to thousands of Tanzanians and brings in foreign currencies needs to be commended and encouraged especially now that the government strives to build up an industrial-based economy.