Dodoma. The severe effects of climate change currently threaten coffee production in Tanzania, which calls for timely and collective interventions from the relevant stakeholders from both the public and public sectors.
While most of the plantations are failing to thrive due to drought, compelled by climate change, it has been unveiled that poor access to inputs, extension services, low productivity, and poor adoption of good agricultural and climate-smart practices stand tall among the factors that thwarting the smooth metamorphosis of the economic sector across the country.
The country’s coffee stakeholders shared these concerns during a special forum organised to discuss the performance of the cash crop, as well as setting viable future mechanisms for the bright future of the sector.
The one-day forum, held in the capital Dodoma over the weekend under the auspices of Solidaridad, an International Civil Society Organization, is part of implementing the Passport to Coffee Export (PACE) project.
The three-year project, funded by the European Union (EU), has so far managed to attain its target to capacitate at least 22,500 coffee smallholder farmers in Mbeya, Ruvuma and Songwe regions in Tanzania, and in its implementation, the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) and the Envirocare Tanzania, are part and parcel.
Elifadhili Daniel, the project manager, said during the gathering that serious efforts were needed to assist the farmers to withstand the effects of climate change.
“Apart from the effects of climate change, efforts must be made to increase extension services and availability of necessary inputs towards the coffee growers across the country,” he insisted.
In efforts to spur the sector’s performance, Daniel communicated that the project was working successively to help increase coffee quality, production and productivity, as well as increasing the extent of youth and women inclusiveness.
“As of now, we have managed to attract many youth into the coffee value chain sub-sector, especially in the establishment of the coffee seedlings nurseries where they’re producing and marketing the quality seedlings and fetching profit for improving their livelihoods,” he mentioned.
He added that the project has also enabled women to initiate different profitable groups through cultivating vegetables, poultry projects and livestock keeping.
“The project targets to produce at least 2.5 million coffee seedlings within three years, whereby up to now we have produced over 80 per cent of the set targets, but also we support the production of 500,000 seeds for timber trees and fruits,” he added.
On her part, Mary Mkonyi, Country Manager for Solidaridad, said they have decided to organise the gathering to chart ways in which the public and private sectors can glue efforts to lay down strategies for the sustainable development of the vital economic sector in the country.
“We have gathered here with numerous players to review and set viable strategies to elevate the quality of the country’s coffee produce, but also to see how best the financial institutions can chip in and assist the farmers in expanding and improving their production scope,” she detailed.
According to her, many of the country’s coffee growers are maintaining small plantations, hence standing on the negative side to fetch huge profits in the market.
“The vision, among others, is to have the farmers improve coffee quality and cultivation scope to stand a chance to generate considerable profits,” Mkonyi said.
Speaking on behalf of the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) Director General (DG), Sijali Boa, TCB’s zonal manager, spoke about the need for the farmers to be equipped with the recommended agronomic practices to help them deal with the effects of climate change.
Coffee is Tanzania’s 3rd largest export crop, contributing 14.1 per cent of total export value, whereby the sector stands second for fetching the country’s foreign currencies, at a tune of at least 24 per cent, after tobacco.
Attracting more than 450,000 families across the country, the sector has a total of 2.4 million people engaging in its value chain. Tanzania has abundant land and enjoys the appropriate climatic conditions, altitude and soil composition suitable for producing high-quality coffee.
Valentine Oforo is a freelance journalist based in Dodoma, Tanzania. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.