Chairperson of Africa Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) Harrison Kalua says there is need for farmers in the country to increase coffee production and improve quality to meet the high demand of coffee on the international market.
“Africa and Malawi in particular, has the best environment and cheap labour in coffee growing, yet we are least in producing coffee compared to other continents,” said Kalua who is also Chief Executive Officer for Mzuzu Coffee .
He made the observation when he opened a week long capacity building training in verification for specialty coffee farmers in Mzuzu last week.
He said coffee remains an important commodity on the international market as such, farmers should strive to ensure that their coffee is certified and verified according to standards set by the International Coffee Organisation.
“We should try and focus on how we can improve and go on the market sustainably, by among others arresting the problems of coffee trees dying before they produce coffee beans and encouraging people to drink more coffee than just producing it,” he added
To that effect, Kalua said Mzuzu Coffee Planters Cooperative Union has embarked on programmes to encourage people to drink more coffee by establishing Coffee drinking joints in all districts in the country, starting with Mzuzu city.
He said coffee farming has significantly improved the living standards of smallholder farmers in the country and could be a replacement to tobacco as a commercial crop, since the demand for coffee is still high.
“Coffee consumption will always be there unlike Tobacco and there is always a big market for coffee as such we are in a process of forming more cooperatives in other districts such as Bembeke in Dedza, Nkhotakota, Ntchisi, Chikangawa in Mzimba and Ntcheu and Chitipa to boost the production,” he added
He, however, said the Union is also not just looking into ways of increasing coffee production but engaging in good farming practices such as conserving the environment and not using child labour.
Project Manager at the Uganda based Africa Fine Coffee Association (AFCA) Filtone Sandando said harsh weather conditions due to effects of climate change, pests and disease are some of the major challenges affecting coffee farmers in Africa.
Sandando, therefore, said farmers need support from cooperating partners for technical knowledge and expertise in growing coffee.
The training was organized with funding from the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), International Coffee Organisation and the European Union.
AFCA has a membership of nine countries namely Kenya Malawi Uganda Ethiopia Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :