French market craves Chipinge coffee

17 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
French market craves Chipinge coffee Agriculture experts revealed that the highly aromatic coffee from Chipinge region is respected internationally for its unique attributes

The ManicaPost

 

Ray Bande
Senior Reporter

COFFEE farms that were subdivided leading to the reduced viability of the sector need to be aggregated, with farmers being formalised again as the first step to restore production to yesteryear levels amid high demand on the French market for the coffee species produced in Chipinge.

Agriculture experts revealed that the highly aromatic coffee from Chipinge region is respected internationally for its unique attributes.

Zimbabwe was among the world’s top coffee producers in the 1990s when output peaked to 15 000 tonnes, providing livelihoods to more than 20 000 small-scale farmers.

In an interview on the sidelines of the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF) Manicaland Indaba last week, Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union executive secretary Mr Paul Zakaria said some French markets are inquiring about coffee produced in Chipinge.

Mr Zakaria said farmers in the region need to be more organised and formalised to restore production of high quality coffee to yesteryear levels.

“Our coffee was the rarest species in the whole world because of certain attributes such as altitude as well as intermittent cold and warm temperatures undergirded by moisture. Some French markets have been coming through to inquire about coffee from this region.

“So agriculture is, indeed, the backbone of the Manicaland economy and we can grow this together, but there are things that still need to be done. We need to organise our farmers and have them formalised. By being organised, we are looking at farms that could have been subdivided to levels where viability was lost. These need to be aggregated again without taking any land from anyone, but informing agricultural production based on what is suitable in such areas,” he said.

Mr Zakaria said a three-pronged approach is also needed to accompany the aggregation and formalisation of farming operations in order to restore past glory days in coffee production.

“Basically what comes to mind are three things – going back to the basics, increased investment to catch up with the lost time over the last two decades and the third thing is investing more in technologies to catch up by way of information and advertising the produce.

“To break that down, going back basics entails looking at the agricultural ecological regions in Manicaland. The province spans over all of them, which presents opportunities for agricultural production that is suitable for all agro-ecological regions. The most important feature in Manicaland, in terms of the agro-ecological zones, is region one and two. These have very interesting attributes, with the major attribute being the altitude. This presents an opportunity for us to grow flowers and increased appreciation of agroforestry – timber plantations.

“Nyanga and areas around Mutasa, Chimanimani and Chipinge can do a lot of coffee, tea and agroforestry that can actually enrich this province. We also need to intensify fruit production in these two regions, including those for export.

“So we cannot replace, for instance, tea with maize. That is a waste because altitude-wise, these are high value crops that can be grown in such areas. We will need to be very intentional about production, and some may call it command, but we just need to focus on high value production and investment required in terms of irrigation, transport infrastructure and communication, among other things that add value to this,” he said.

Mr Zakaria also emphasised the need to invest in research and the importance of farmer training.

“Research is also a very important component in coffee production. We used to have a vibrant Coffee Research Institute in the province, and without research we will not be privy to the ideal varieties and challenges that farmers need to overcome to excel. We need to be intentional about that as well.

“There is also the aspect of farmer training. Instead of having institutes that train extension workers, we now need to be intentional about training our farmers so that they know exactly what they should do,” he said.

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