Coffee farmers in Kilimanjaro are characterized as progressive farmers. They acquired the title from coffee farming returns. From coffee most farmers have made a progress in their community. Many have put up houses with corrugated iron sheet roofing with cement blocks. Traditional houses made from banana fronds are almost extinct. Education to coffee farmers, to his /her children carried first priority over possible uses of coffee income.
That is why majority of coffee farmers and their children can read and write. Accessibility in the villages is relatively good compared to other regions; however to some areas it is difficult during rainy season. Local governments in collaboration with the villagers are putting up efforts to make these roads passable throughout the year.
Organic Coffee Production
Production of Arabica coffee started in the Kilimanjaro region in 1900. It peaked during the mid 1970s to 27,000 tons but has since declined to 12,000 tons or less. Kilimanjaro Arabica tends to fall into the category of what is commonly known within the industry as East African mild.
The production of coffee on the mountain was conducted organically by-default up until the mid-1960s, when chemicals were introduced. Since then most coffee growers applied chemicals to their coffee.
In the nineties this situation changed, due to liberalization farmers were not supplied with inputs any more, prices went down and the coffee farmers also did not manage to purchase various inputs including chemicals. This led majority not to use chemicals for about 10 years now.
Kilimanjaro Native Cooperative Union (KNCU) has been among certified Cooperative with organic coffee and there are seven Primary Cooperative Societies that grow organic Coffee, which are Mrimbo Uuwo, Mwika Kinyamvuo, Marangu East, Marangu West, Kirua Vunjo East, Mamba North and Uru North Njari. In the season of 2010/2011 these societies have collected a total of 121,741.8 Kilograms of Organic coffee.
By this time there were only three Primary Cooperative Societies with organic coffee, these were Mwika Kinyamvuo, Mrimbo Uuwo, and Marangu East, all are located in Moshi Rural district.
The Society is in the Eastern part of Moshi Rural District, 48 kilometers from KNCU Head Quarters in Moshi Municipality. It falls in the higher altitude coffee growing areas. The society has 911 members, 400 are certified as Organic farmers. In total there are 169,994 trees occupying 407.2 acres with the estimation of producing 56,070 kilograms of coffee annually.
A very small portion of it falls in the middle altitude zone. The physical features are mainly made of undulating hills separated by open valleys.
Coffee is the main cash crop. It is inter-cropped with bananas. Annual crops like maize, beans, cocoyam and sweet potatoes are also inter-cropped depending on the intensity of the canopy. Open spaces are found to farmers having relatively big farms.
These are mainly grown with maize and beans or pasture. Extensive vegetable farming is practiced in one sub-village (Mbale) where the soils and climate favors the crops. The business is mainly done by youths fond of ventures which have quick turnover.
Some farmers have small portions of land within their coffee plots where they grow vegetables for domestic use. Many grow local varieties. The Primary Society is accessible throughout the year.
Mrimbo-Uuwo is at the borders of Moshi Rural and Rombo Districts to the East, 49 Kilometers from KNCU Head Quarters in Moshi Municipality. It has 870 members among them 275 have been certified as organic farmers. The coffee plots are mainly inter cropped with bananas, beans, maize, yams and sweet potatoes. Patches of land grown with pastures of food crop can be observed neighbouring coffee plots for farmers who have relatively large plots. The average land holding for individual farmer is 1.00 acre. Many farmers keep livestock for security, milk and for farmyard manure essential to their coffee and banana trees.
Vegetables are grown by few farmers especially those close to a reliable source of water for domestic use only. However the varieties grown are local, not susceptible to pests and diseases common to vegetables. The society has a total of 91,515 coffee trees occupying 399.55 acres that can produce up to 27,446 of kilograms per year.
The Primary Society is spread in two altitudes, the middle that is relatively flat and higher which consist of undulating hills separated by open valleys. Coffee thrives well in this altitude. Mrimbo-Uuwo is accessible by an all weather road. Few feeder roads are impassable during the rainy season.
Marangu East is on the Central part of Kilimanjaro region located in Moshi Rural 40 kilometers from Moshi Municipality (KNCU head quarters). It is accessible with tarmac road. The Primary Society stretches in two zones (middle and higher) famous in coffee growing. Coffee is predominately found in the higher altitude.
Farmers in these areas are more concerned with their coffee plots than those on the middle altitude because coffee to them is still the only economic livelihood that they can depend on compared to their counterparts who have been derailed from their coffee farming business by the tourist industry and its related businesses that have flourished well in Marangu, at Marangu Mtoni, it being the main entrance for tourists coming to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
There are 1,208 members with 170,946 coffee trees. The society has 722.5 acres of land and production is up to 26,148 kilograms of coffee in a year. However, there are 547 members who are certified as Organic Farmers.
In September 2003, the organic production was extended to two more Societies which were Kirua Vunjo East and Uru North Njari.
Uru North Njari
The Primary Society is accessible throughout the year and made of undulating hills mainly separated by rivers or streams. The Society is 14 kilometers from Moshi Municipality and located in Moshi rural. The society has 780 members owning a total of 86,055 coffee trees covering 222.0 acres with approximately yielding of 8,395 kilograms of coffee per year.
In this society a total of 122 members are certified as Organic farmers and are expected to increase in number.
Most coffee plots lie on steep land. Soil control measures are fairly done by majority of the farmers. Coffee farming is the main economic venture for many households. Few have patches of land open for growing other food crops, pasture and vegetables. However, their main land for cultivating maize, beans and sunflower is in the low lands on hired or own land. Coffee is inter-cropped with bananas and other annual crops like maize, beans, cocoyam etc.
Kirua Vunjo East
Kirua Vunjo East is on the Northern part of Moshi Rural District, 26 kilometres from KNCU Headquarters. Farmers on the higher altitude depend on coffee, the only cash crop. It is not much on the middle altitude. The villages on the higher altitude are mainly on undulating hills with special characteristic that one hill is occupied by individuals descending from the same clan.
They have relatively big farms mostly surrounded by an open space for growing food crops and pasture. Vegetable farming is also apparent to some farmers. The society have 1,696 members among them 553 are certified as Organic farmers. Owning a total of 283,758 coffee trees covering 1,049.75 acres with approximately yielding of 59,059 kilograms of coffee per year.
Soil fertility reclamations and management practices are observable in the middle altitude especially in Mero village. Rainwater harvesting is the main practice. Farmers efforts are complimented by support from Kilimanjaro Environment Development Association, KEDA, a local Non-Governmental Organization, whose major activities in the area is to encourage and train farmers on aspects of soil conservation, rain water harvesting and establishment of fodder tree nurseries. Of late, Heifer International Project has also participated in providing the farmers with dairy goats, basically to provide them with milk to improve their nutritional status.
In July 2007, the organic production was extended to two other more Societies which were in Quality Improvement Program which are Mamba North and Marangu West.
The Society is in the central part of Kilimanjaro region located 43 kilometers from KNCU Headquarters. A very small portion of it falls in the middle altitude zone and the rest in the higher altitude zone.
Flowering in this organic society starts late September to December but depends on the onset of short rains. There are 1,694 members whereby 429 have been certified as Organic farmers, with . Owning a total of 111,393 coffee trees covering 428.5 acres with approximately yielding of 38,824 kilograms of coffee per year.
Coffee is the main cash crop though is inter-cropped with bananas. Annual crops like maize, beans, cocoyams and sweet potatoes are also inter-cropped depending on the intensity of the canopy in the coffee field. Open spaces are found to farmers having relatively big farms. These are mainly grown with maize and beans or pasture. Some farmers have small portions of land within their coffee plots where they grow vegetables for domestic use. Many grow local varieties. The PS is accessible throughout the year.
Is found on the Central part of Kilimanjaro region located in Moshi Rural 43 kilometers from Moshi Municipality (KNCU head quarters). The Primary Society stretches in higher belt zone which receives between 1000 -1750 mm rainfalls per year. Coffee is predominately found in the higher altitude.
Farmers in these areas are more concerned with their coffee plots than those on the middle altitude because coffee to them is still the only economic livelihood that they can depend on compared to their counterparts.
The Primary Society has 2,156 members, However there are 296 members who are certified as Organic Farmers.
With 59,377 coffee trees which covers an area of 336.54 acres of land and production is up to 16,555 kilograms of coffee in a year.