Demand for new hybrid coffee varieties that combine resistance to coffee berry disease and coffee leaf rust have increased since they were introduced in 2005, compelling Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) to focus on scaling up their multiplication and availability in the country.
According to TaCRI’s Chief Executive Director James Teri, to meet the increasing demand, the institute has been in the forefront to support individual farmers, farming groups, estates, coffee unions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to produce their own seedlings.
Professor Teri has singled out Mr Zebedayo Swai as the role model, having worked in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives (MAFSC) for 39 years.
During his career in the ministry, Mr Swai occupied several positions that molded him into one of the most famous and instrumental stakeholders in coffee sector, devoting his efforts to support the development of the cash crop in the country, said Professor Teri.
Mr Swai has since retirement in 2006 been multiplying coffee seedlings in Arumeru district, with 500,000 seedlings already multiplied and supplied to coffee growers in Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Tanga regions.
Mr Swai told the ‘Daily News’ that the demand for hybrid seedlings is high because farmers have realised their benefits, calling upon other stakeholders including coffee producing district councils to invest in hybrid seedlings multiplications to help raise collected revenues from coffee sales.
He says his current capacity was to multiply and distribute 100,000 seedlings of traditional coffee varieties per year, revealing that TaCRI has contracted him to multiply 50,000 seedlings of traditional coffee varieties for grafting with the improved coffee varieties.
Prof Teri reveals that TaCRI supports Mr Swai’s efforts through provision of technical advices and inputs, such as watering cans, coffee seeds, poly coffee, poly bags, wheelbarrows and money-maker pumps, which are used in seedlings multiplication activities.
“To meet the increasing demand for improved coffee varieties, Mr Swai intends to produce 500,000 seedlings in five years for distribution to growers in the northern zone,” he said, beaming, “This is a good example of TaCRI’s strategy to involve many stakeholders to support multiplication and distribution of hybrid seedlings to coffee growers.”
By PETER TEMBA, Tanzania Daily News