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Tanzania coffee prices rise despite impact of Covid-19

Tuesday December 01 2020
coffee pic

A farmer tends his coffee crop. Prices of coffee have increased in Tanzania despite the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO | FILE

Moshi. Despite the outbreak of Covid-19 which partly devastated the economy, the price of coffee at local auctions has slightly increased.

A 50-kilogramme bagful of Arabica coffee sold at $133 at the last auction on November 5 this year compared to $117 in the 2019/20 financial year.

The sales and marketing manager of the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB), Frank Nyarusi, said this meant that the local price of coffee was higher than the export price.

“The impact of Covid-19 was not that severe. It only affected transportation of the commodity to overseas markets - and not the export prices”, he told journalists.

Also not much affected by the pandemic was the consumption rate of the beverage abroad and locally, he said, adding that the crop remained stable in the world market.

According to him, a 50kg of Arabica coffee sold at $117 at the close of 2019/20 fiscal year compared to $106 offered at the world market.

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He added while the commodity was selling at $133 per 50kg bag at local auctions, it earned only $116 abroad.

Regarding the Robusta coffee, Mr. Nyarusi said it also sold at a higher in the local markets than overseas, a trend which is not normal in the past.

A 50kg bag of the commodity fetched $78.5 locally in contrast to $51 in foreign markets, notably in the United Kingdom where much of Tanzanian coffee is exported.

Asked why the commodity fetched higher prices locally than in export markets, the official largely attributed the trend to quality.

“The quality of our coffee beans has vastly improved. The prices in the world markets has simply gone down”, he explained.

He added that recent measures taken by the government and other industry players - such as strengthening of agricultural extension services - led to the improvement of the crop’s quality.

According to Mr Nyarusi, coffee production in the 2020/2021 harvest season is expected to hit a record 70,000 tonnes, up from 59,000 tonnes in 2019/2020.

The chairman of KNCU (1984) Ltd, Prof John Boshe, said the Union would continue to assist farmers with agricultural inputs to bolster their productivity.

However, he appealed to the government to improve administrative systems and structures of the institutions within the broader coffee industry.

The highest production ever recorded in recent times was in 2013 when 71,319 tonnes were produced.

Tanzania has an estimated 250,000 hectares of land under coffee production - and an estimated 530,000 coffee farmers in 50 districts across eight major production zones.

In the 1970s and 1980s, coffee overtook sisal as the country’s ‘green gold’ and a leading export crop, with an annual production averaging 60,000 tonnes.

The crop, however, lost much of its attraction to producers from the 1990s due to low prices in the world markets, coupled with low yields.

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By Florah [email protected] [email protected]

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