THE production of coffee in Manicaland is expected to increase sharply this season, thanks to moves by the Government and private stakeholders to revive the sector.
Coffee production had nosedived due to an assortment of factors, among them poor prices on the international market and climate change induced disasters like Cyclones Eline and Idai, among others.
Due to the high quality of the coffee produced in the country, there has been a sharp increase in its demand on the international market, thereby prompting stakeholders to boost its production.
The quality of Zimbabwe’s coffee is high due to the prevalence of ideal climatic conditions, good soils and a skilled labour force.
The locally produced coffee is used to blend inferior coffee produced in other countries.
Coffee producing districts in Manicaland are Chipinge, Chimanimani,Mutare and Mutasa, which form part of the Eastern Highlands.
Coffee Research Institute official, Mr Caleb Mahoya said production is on the mend against a backdrop of interventions by Government and Private Voluntary Organisations (PVOs).
Mr Mahoya said interventions include production and distribution of seedlings to new farmers in communal, old and new resettlement areas that are establishing new plantations.
He said training of farmers on coffee agronomy, pest scouting and management, seed and nursery production, safe handling of agro-chemicals, establishment of coffee demo plots on farms and at tertiary institutions are ongoing.
“About 800 small-holder farmers and three large-scale farmers have coffee plantations on their properties in Manicaland and other parts of the country.
In 2022, about 100 new farmers established new coffee plantations and nearly 40ha worth of seedlings are produced annually on nurseries scattered around the four main coffee producing districts, that is Chimanimani, Chipinge, Mutare and Mutasa,” said Mr Mahoya.
“Apart from Government, the farmers are currently getting training from Technoserve, an organisation that is implementing a coffee quality improvement project for Nespresso of Switzerland. Nespresso is also helping farmers to acquire primary processing equipment in order to improve the quality of the product,” he said.
Zimbabwe exports its coffee mainly to the USA, Japan, China, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa and Mozambique.
Mr Mahoya said the price of coffee has risen significantly on the international market.
“Coffee is sold at an average of US$6.50 per kilogramme, hence the venture is very attractive to farmers. There is a huge demand for locally produced coffee around the world, which cannot be satisfied by current production levels.
“Therefore, we need to increase the hectrage and produce more coffee to give our farmers an opportunity to improve their livelihoods,” he said. – Manica Post