THE Kagera Cooperative Union (KCU 1990 Ltd) has started encouraging farmers to use digital scales to replace the platform scales as it distributed over one million coffee seedlings for this planting season in efforts to improve the crop production.
KCU 1990 Ltd Chairman, Mr Ressy Mashulano, said that during phase one KCU will buy at least 50 digital scales while the target is to purchase about 150 digital scales.
Kagera region has embarked on the implementation of a five-year plan to increase coffee production.
"During the past three years coffee production in the region increased from 52,000 metric tonnes during 2018/2019 to 78,300 metric tonnes during 2020/2021 enabling farmers to pocket about 96.4bn/-.
Farmers are encouraged to plant clonal coffee varieties which are resistant to coffee wilt disease (CWD), for increased yields and earn more money," he said also appealing to the farmers to replace the old coffee trees in favour of the clonal varieties.
Elaborating, Mr Mashulano said KCU recently distributed over one million clonal varieties to the farmers free of charge for the planting season...adding... However, he appealed for government intervention to enable agricultural extension officers who work as Ward Executive Officers (WEO) to return to their former villages.
"We are facing an acute shortage of Agricultural Extension Officers (AEO). KCU recently employed about 40 extension officers but the number was not enough," he said.
The clonal varieties have high yields and resistant to the coffee berry disease. A well managed coffee plant could produce up to two kilograms enabling a farmer to pocket at least 6,000/- per kilogram. Clonal coffee yields three times more coffee and is resistant to the coffee wilt disease," he said.
The word clonal means that the coffee plants have been multiplied asexually from a single parent plant or clone. Kagera farmers produce robusta coffee which constitutes 30 percent of the total coffee production in the country.
Coffee is grown in Bukoba, Muleba, Karagwe, Kyerwa, Ngara and Missenyi Districts in the western areas along Lake Victoria. This constitutes about 30 per cent of the total coffee production in Tanzania.
Mr Mashulano also announced that coffee farmers would be paid an increase of 3,100/- for a kilogram of organic coffee up from 3,000/- while a kilogram of cherry robusta will be paid 1,300/- up from 1,200/-.
KCU comprised about 134 Agricultural and Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS) with 45,000 members of which 53 are in Muleba District, 27 in Missenyi, 51 in Bukoba Rural while three others are in Bukoba Urban, " he said.
He noted that the region experiences equatorial climate, which is favourable for crops cultivation and livestock keeping, and temperatures are also moderate allowing for smooth economic activities.
Kagera region is strategically located, bordering four countries- Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya across Lake Victoria, which make it potential for cross-border trade.
Currently, the region has the minimum pre-requisites for establishing industries and successful business based on its geographical location and established infrastructural facilities that are important for enabling industrial development, he said.