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World’s finest coffee in demand

Article - August 17, 2011
Richly endowed with fertile soils, reliable rainfalls, and unique ecosystems, the land of Kilimanjaro aims to be Africa’s top coffee producer and has space for new, larger estates
Along with Colombia and Kenya, Tanzania is one of only three countries that produce the world’s most expensive variety of Arabia coffee, Colombian Mild, and is looking to capitalize on predictions by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) that the coffee market will grow by almost 6 million bags by 2020, boosted by the Chinese increasingly acquiring a taste for the finely roasted bean and consumption in India set to double.

There are around 450,000 smallholder farmers involved in coffee production in Tanzania all year round. “We estimate that 200,000 hectares of land are under cultivation. But the potential land suitable for growing coffee is well above 500,000 hectares. This is an opportunity we want to capitalize on,” says Adolph Kumburu, director general of the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB), which in 2009 identified six extra regions with land suitable for growing coffee. “We want to open up room for big businesses at the production level. Currently only 10% of producers are big estates.”

Established in 1993, the TCB oversees the nation’s coffee industry and has been working hard to raise Tanzanian brands’ profile internationally.

“There is a lack of technology investment in the sector that could award us Full Colombian Mild – the best type of coffee on the world market. It always pays a premium on the New York commodity market, which we have been losing out on for a long time because we cannot make the product as required by the market,” says Mr. Kumburu.

The government’s Kilimo Kwanza development efforts and the focus on introducing irrigation and mechanized farming will also add a great deal of support to the coffee sector.