Zim’s coffee output on rebound

15 Dec, 2019 - 00:12 0 Views
Zim’s coffee output on rebound

The Sunday Mail

Enacy Mapakame

Zimbabwe’s coffee production is set to rebound with fresh impetus from both Government and private sector players, coupled with high demand for the country’s coffee.

Demand from international buyers in Europe, America, Asia and other African countries is on the increase.

The demand had suffered a dip in the past two decades as buyers shunned Zimbabwe for other African producers such as Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Experts in the sector say Zimbabwe’s coffee is one of the best and most sought-after due to its unique taste as it comes from fertile soils and good climatic conditions.

Big brands such as Nespresso are already collaborating with local farmers to boost production.

As a result, about 450 small-scale farmers have registered to produce coffee. The figure is expected to grow in the next few years.

This comes as efforts are being made to put Zimbabwe back on the coffee producing map, which is dominated by Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya in the region, while Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and Indonesia dominate the global scene.

“We are coming from a near total collapse of the coffee sector. Farmers had switched to other lucrative crops like bananas and macadamia nuts,” said an expert in the coffee industry, who is also an agricultural economist, Mr Midway Bhunu.

“Opportunities abound in this industry. We are now seeing more small-scale farmers coming in to get training on production, handling and everything else to do with the coffee value chain.

“Coffee is a high value crop with capacity to boost the country’s foreign currency earnings as it is mainly an export product. Demand is very high right now and as a country, we have the capacity to increase production. More farmers are joining,” he said.

Over 90 percent of the coffee produced in Zimbabwe is for the export market.

But while demand from international markets is increasing, local consumption has also witnessed a rapid increase this year alone.

According to Mr Bhunu, national consumption in coffee shops rose 75 percent to 700 000 cups a week as at end of October from 400 000 cups a week beginning of the year. Consumption reached its peak during the winter season and is projected to grow to 17 million cups a year.

Mr Bhunu said this is a good sign for the industry that once contributed about 2,1 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employed over 20 000 people.

At its peak in the 1980s, the country’s coffee sector produced an estimated 15 000 tonnes.

Currently, smallholder farmers are producing around 40 tonnes annually. Volumes reach an estimated 500 tonnes when combined with the two commercial estates in the country.

Tanganda, Makandi, Le Vieux and Boswell Brown are the top coffee producers in the country.

According to the Coffee Market — Growth, Trends and Forecasts (2019- 2024) report, the global coffee market will grow at 5,5 percent annually during the forecast period from 2019 to 2024.

Coffee continues to be essential in society’s daily routine, thereby creating scope for developing countries, Zimbabwe included, to tap into its production.

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