Tanzania: Coffee farmers turn to organic practices to benefit environment (Daily News)

| October 17, 2016

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In the hilly and sloping area of Mbozi, in the Mbeya Region of Tanzania, farmers are struggling to increase their coffee harvest. Tozo is a 52-year-old farmer who says that erratic and often unfavourable changes in weather patterns are making coffee production difficult.

He says: “I have been in this venture for more than three decades, and in those good days we had enough rains. But now the rains start late, delaying crop planting and resulting in late coffee flowering and berry ripening.”

Mr. Tozo lives in Nambizo village. He says a lack of extension officers and the high cost of farm inputs are hindering farmers’ efforts to improve production.

Now some coffee farmers are turning to organic farming practices to increase their harvest, protect the environment, and avoid high prices for inputs.

Israel Kombe is a coffee grower in Kilimanjaro Region, and a member of the Mwika Kinyamvua Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Society.

He says: “It is high time now we all abandoned conventional farming and go for [the] organic one. I for one have already started and wish others to do the same so that they get huge yield, but also it is for the sake of the environment.”

Organic farming does not use synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, substituting natural products instead. For example, pyrethrin is a natural pesticide made from the chrysanthemum flower. Compost and manure can also be used as organic fertilizers, adding nutrients to the soil without adding harmful chemicals. Crop rotation, intercropping, and companion planting can also increase harvests without resorting to using chemicals.

The Tanzania Bureau of Standards, along with the United Nations Environment Programme, is promoting organic farming in Tanzania, particularly among coffee and flower producers.

Egid Mubofu is the acting director of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards. He says organic farming is beneficial because it avoids the use of chemicals, which can be harmful to both the environment and to human health.

Clara Makenya is the country coordinator for the UN Environment Programme. She explains: “Apart from the adverse effect the chemicals have on the quality of crop produced, [the chemicals] remain in the soil and go forth to water sources so that the users of the precious liquid are affected health-wise.”

Organic farmers can also benefit from the increased value of their product. Satieli Kawiche is a small-scale farmer from Rombo district who is growing organic vegetables. She says organic farming improves her degraded soils and is less expensive, but she is also earning her a greater income. She adds, “Most buyers are interested in buying organically-grown vegetables.”

— with files from Business Week

To read the full article about coffee farmers in Tanzania, Weather stops coffee growers to meet Tanzania production target, go to: http://www.coastweek.com/3939-Weather-restrains-Tanzanian-coffee-growers-to-meet-production-target.htm

To read the full article about organic farming in Tanzania, Coffee and flower growers turn to organic farming, go to: http://dailynews.co.tz/index.php/features/54133-coffee-and-flower-growers-turn-to-organic-farming