Coffee growers at Manushi-Sinde cooperative society in Kilimanjaro Region have received another boost for their industry after the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) granted them Sh200
The grant will be used to enhance the cultivation of the cash crop which has dropped in recent years due to falling producer prices locally and in the export market.
Speaking during the signing of a two-year agreement, a representative of the US aid agency, Mr Gilliard Nkini, urged the cooperative society members to ensure that the funds are spent for the purpose.
The funds would be spent on procuring the required agricultural inputs for coffee cultivation as well as building capacity for the farmers in modern methods of growing the crop for higher yields.
“It is through this that we can empower the farmers through increasing their income,” he said, noting that failure to implement the programme as per the agreed terms would lead to USADF pulling out.
The official attributed the falling cultivation of coffee to the farm inputs which many smallholder farmers could not afford, adding through the support the Manushi-Sinde cooperative members would be able to increase their annual yields to 15 tonnes from six tonnes in two years’ time.
The chairman of the society, Mr John Boshe, said members of the cooperative used to produce up to 60 tonnes of coffee in the 1990s but the yields dropped to ten tonnes by 2013.
He added that this led to many farmers in the area and many parts of Kilimanjaro region abandoning coffee cultivation because of the high costs of production. Many of them opted for maize and avocado farming.
The problem was compounded by a string of levies charged on them by the government, according to one of the farmers, Ms Veronica Munishi, who said many of them were forced to spend Sh5,000 to produce one kilogramme of coffee beans.