Harare - The European Union (EU) head of delegation in Zimbabwe, Ambassador Aldo Dell’ariccia on Friday said that the bloc is eager to help revive coffee production in the country.
Zimbabwe's Coffee production has plummeted to only 150 tonnes per annum from 25 000 in the 1990s, following the pulling out of most financiers around 2 000 in protest against Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.
Foreign currency earner
In the 1990s coffee was one of Zimbabwe’s largest foreign currency earners along with tobacco, cotton and sugar.
Dell’ariccia told CAJ News that the EU was eager to finance developmental projects in Zimbabwe.
“EU is already supporting the agriculture sector in Zimbabwe, especially the small holder farmers; like the small scale sugar growers in the low veld,” he said.
“Coffee is an important crop and we are ready to consider request from organized growers provided that the land involved is not under dispute.”
Early this month the EU released over $10 million to support various agricultural activities in the country.
Coffee is mainly grown in the Eastern Highlands in areas such as Honde Valley, Chimanimani and Vumba.
However towards the turn of the millennium great strides had been made to grow the crop in the Midlands, Mashonaland East and West provinces.
Coffee Growers Association president Gifford Trevor said millions of dollars were required to boost production of the crop.
“Both large and small scale farmers are still willing to grow the crop if funding is availed and as farmers we are organized and ready to revive the sector,” Trevor said, adding that government should also guarantee the security of tenure to protect the coffee growers’ efforts.
Trevor said Zimbabwe used to produce the best coffee in the world and wanted to return to that former glory.
“There is a lot of goodwill on our part as farmers. What we now need is political will for our country to blossom again in terms of coffee production,” he said.
He said a substantial amount of money was also required for the refurbishment of coffee milling plants.
Trevor said the price of coffee was surging on the international market.
“Zimbabwe is losing out on billions of dollars annually as the price of coffee has increased to about $3 per pound up from one dollar per pound in the early 1990s,” he said.
The crop was chiefly exported to Japan, South Africa, United States and the EU.
- CAJ News