THE Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) Deputy National Chairman, Mr Andrew Kakama has appealed for government intervention to enable coffee farmers in the country to access credit guarantee scheme.
Equally, he advised financial institutions, including banks and telecommunication service providers to extend their wings to rural areas where most of the farmers live.
"Most of the farmers in the country need credit guarantee scheme that will enable them sell their crop to authorized agents and at the same time discourage them from selling coffee in farms in an informal way known as Butula," he said.
Kagera Regional TIGO Manager, Mr Robert Paul explained that the institution had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with several Agricultural and Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS), under Tigo Kilimo Service.
Under the system, the farmers would get payment through their mobile phones with Tigo Pesa, he said.
NMB Kaitaba Branch Manager, Mr Aidan Msuha, on the other hand explained that several farmers had already been enrolled under 'Ushirika Afya ' scheme and Chapa Chap Account.
Mr Isaya Tendega, a Trade Development Officer at the regional secretariat, while opening a training on Financial Inclusion on behalf of the Kagera Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Prof Faustin Kamuzora, appealed to coffee farmers to double production of the crop and raise their incomes.
Equally, he tasked the financial institutions to devise a system on how to assist the farmers to get timely payments. He explained that Kagera is a leading coffee producing region with production ranging between 60,000-70,000 metric tonnes per year.
He revealed that during a five-year period (2020-2025), the government in collaboration with other stakeholders including Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB), Café Africa Tanzania, TACRI, Cooperative Unions, Prisons Department and the private sector was keen to increase coffee production from 75,000 metric tonnes to 200,000 metric tonnes.
"During the past three years, coffee production in the region increased from 52,000 metric tonnes during 2018/19 to 78,300 metric tonnes during 2020/2021, enabling the 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.
Zonal Coffee Manager at TACRI Maruku, Dr Nyabisi Ng'homa explained that researchers at TACRI Maruku were multiplying best Robusta clonal varieties which are resistant to diseases and farmers are advised to plant the varieties in their farms for increased productivity.
Dr Ng'homa also appealed to the farmers to adhere to best crop husbandry practices by uprooting and destroying through burning the affected coffee trees, farm cleanliness, mulching and timely use of inputs and fertilizers.
He explained that the increase of coffee production in the region has positive impact on farmers' livelihoods and the national economy. He attributed the achievement to application of good agricultural practices, management of Coffee Wilt Diseases (CWD), Leaf Rust (LR) and planting of improved clonal coffee varieties.
Café Africa Tanzania Program Manager, Mr Daniel Mwakalinga, on the other hand, explained that they had already produced at least 300,000 improved Robusta coffee trees.
Tanzania Agricultural Bank (TADB) has for three consecutive years issued about 98bn/- as loans to Kagera Region farmers to purchase coffee and raise their earnings.
Kagera farmers produce Robusta coffee which constitutes 60 percent of the total coffee production in the country. However, coffee produced by small-scale farmers was threatened by smugglers who used to take farmers' produce at a throw-away price to neighbouring countries.
Coffee farmers in Kagera Region have been historically smuggling the crop to neighbouring countries, while some were selling them in an informal system called "butula".
The Robusta varieties are high yielding and resistant to the coffee berry disease. A well managed Robusta coffee plant could produce up to two kilograms, enabling a farmer to pocket at least 6,000/- per kilogram compared to the current 1,200/- per kilogram.
Clonal coffee yields three times more coffee and is resistant to the coffee wilt disease. The word clonal means that the coffee plants have been multiplied asexually from a single parent plant or clone.
Coffee is grown in Bukoba, Muleba, Karagwe, Kyerwa, Ngara and Missenyi districts in the western areas along Lake Victoria. This constitutes about 50 per cent of the total coffee production in Tanzania.