Bid to revive coffee production gathers momentum
by Geraldine Katunga
Rumbidzayi Zinyuke Manicaland Bureau
More farmers in Honde Valley have expressed a desire to grow coffee as efforts to increase production gathers momentum.
Mutasa district has some of the best climatic conditions to grow coffee but production had declined significantly over the past decades, due to depressed prices.
Several companies have, however, expressed an interest in investing in the revival of coffee production in the last two years, resulting in more smallholder farmers coming on board.
In 2018, a Netherlands-based company, Nespresso, partnered Government and some local firms in offering training for coffee production to Honde Valley farmers through Technoserve. Technoserve managed to train smallholder farmers in 10 wards in Mutasa.
Farmers working in the Greenlands Irrigations scheme in Honde Valley, who were among those the beneficiaries of the programme, said they are eager to start producing the crop.
Greenlands chairperson Mr Caleb Mareya said farmers had already started preparing land to put under coffee.
“As a result of the support we have received, we are planning on diversifying and expanding our fields to produce more. We have other partners who are contracting us for coffee, banana and bean production and we are now preparing our fields to increase production. We had abandoned some of our fields because we could not afford to farm them due to water challenges but now our irrigation scheme is functional, and we have already started clearing more land so that we can put coffee,” he said.
“We want to utilise all our land because farming is a business and we want it to grow. In the next five years, we hope to be making a lot of money from farming.”
At its peak, the country used to be the second largest coffee producer after Brazil, but output gradually fell as farmers shunned coffee production due to the low prices offered by side marketers.
The country was famous for its super high quality and flavour of its coffee beans in the 1990s, which helped generate crucial foreign currency and a livelihood for many small scale and commercial farmers.