Tanzania – Itaka
Itaka Quality Coffee Group
Varietal(s): Kent, Bourbon & other local varieties
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried on beds
Altitude: 1,620 metres above sea level
Owner: Various smallholder farmers
Town: Mbozi, Songwe
When the tiny Itaka Quality Coffee group first formed in 2006, it only had 14 small holder farmer members. While this number has grown to 24 individuals in the current day, it is still a very small group with minimal production. For the most part, farmers have inherited their coffee plots and plants from their parents and processing methods remain rustic. Nonetheless, this group is working together to improve the quality of their coffee so that they have more control over the price that they command on international markets.The long -term goal is livelihood improvement across the board.
In their quest for better quality, the Itaka Quality Coffee Group faces significant challenges. The first is minimal access to technical knowledge regarding coffee cultivation. They are working their very hardest to overcome this by reaching out to programs that provide
training, but the battle is uphill. The availability of agro-inputs (fertilisers in particular) is also minimal. This renders producers particularly vulnerable when faced with the challenges of weather fluctuation (inparticular drought, which weakens trees and makes them susceptible to long-term disease if not countered) and fusarium wilt (which is common in the area). Currently the group has no irrigation equipment, leaving them with only the rain for watering their plots. This makes for highly precarious conditions, as increasingly the rains don’t come in time and at the needed amount.