MOSHI, Tanzania – The Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) has embarked on a training programme for farmers on modern crop husbandry in order to enable coffee to regain its lost glory.
Under the programme, several farmers in Kilimanjaro Region have been assisted in forming groups under which they are exposed to techniques to produce high yielding and disease resistant varieties.
“We are seeing good results in this. We are now producing 12 tonnes of coffee beans from around only two tonnes some years back,” said Mr Salaliel Mushi, the chairperson of one of the groups at Uraa Village in Hai District.
He said although coffee used to be a leading cash crop in the region, its production sharply declined around the year 2000 due to poor extension services, emergence of diseases and falling prices in the world market.
He added after the recent initiative by TaCRI, a research centre based at Lyamungo on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, they were seeing prospects in their efforts to enable coffee to bounce back as one of the leading export crops.
Under it, extension officers from the station are deployed to the groups already established in the villages where they supply farmers with improved seeds as well as chemicals against diseases.
The institute has also constructed sheds for coffee nurseries. “TaCRI has been very supportive to us on this,” Mr Mushi said, adding that farmers were no longer uprooting coffee trees as was the case in the recent past.
The 30-member Wabokesha is one of dozens of groups that has been established for the farmers’ groups in Hai and Siha districts to improve coffee production. According to Ms Sofia Malinga, a research officer with Tacri, currently there are 22 such groups in Hai and Siha district, each with about 30 members.
TaCRI Director General Dr Deusdedit Kilambo told The Citizen during a field day last week that the coffee berry disease (CBD) which impacted o coffee production in the country has now been largely contained through introduction of new varieties.