Kenya’s less well-known neighbour produces almost the same quantity of coffee annually. The coffees are marketed by both an auction system and direct sale.
Arabica seedlings were first introduced from Réunion and planted in the Bayamoyo and Mogoro regions and later as a success commercial crop in 1893 on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro. In the 1950s, other Arabica plants were also introduced into western areas of Tanzania from neighbouring Burundi. It is now cultivated in practically all the highland regions of the country. Wild coffee species are still being discovered in Tanzania – most recently Coffea kihansiensis in the Udzungwa Mountains.
Nowadays, both Arabica (harvested July-December and wet processed) and the indigenous Robusta (harvested April-November and natural processed) are cultivated and the main growing areas of Mara, Kilimanjaro, Ruvuma, Mbeya, Kigoma, Arusha, Manyara, Bukoba and Kagera (where both Robusta and Arabica are grown). Arabica accounts for nearly 75% of the 50,000 tonnes (2008 data) of coffee that Tanzania produces every year.
Tanzania’s economy is heavily reliant on agriculture and this provides employment for around 90% of the workforce and accounts for some 85% of exports. The main cash crops include coffee (of which over 90% is grown by smallholders), cotton, tobacco, cashew nuts, tea and sisal.
Today, an estimated 450,000 smallholders are reliant on coffee (known locally as kahawa) for their livelihoods. This, in turn, supports around 4.5 million family members and labourers (11% of the country’s entire population). These small plots of 5 hectares of less produce almost 90% of the country’s entire production, the remainder is grown by co-operatives and on larger well-organised estates, such as Blackburn in Oldeani.
In 2001, the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TaCRI) was established with 2 main aims: to improve the livelihoods of farmers and to further develop a sustainable, profitable and prosperous coffee industry in Tanzania. As part of these goals, the Institute has set itself the aim or replanting all of the country’s 200 million coffee trees with improved varieties by 2020.
The new crop from Tanzania is usually available from our UK warehouse in January.