Tanzania produces two types of coffee, Arabica which contributes an average of 60.9% and Robusta accounting for 39.1%. The country is ranked 4th among the 25 coffee producing countries in Africa.
Tanzania’s Arabica growing regions are Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Tanga, Iringa, Mbeya, Kigoma, Manyara, Mwanza, Katavi, Mara, Njombe, Songwe, Rukwa, Geita and Ruvuma while Robusta is grown in Kagera and Morogoro regions.
Tanzania is uniquely one of the three countries in the world that produce Colombian Mild Arabica. Colombia and Kenya are the other two producers of this unique quality coffee that accounts for 9% of the world’s production. Tanzania accounts for roughly 6% of the Colombian Mild group production. About 90% of the total coffee production in Tanzania comes from about 320,000 coffee smallholder farmers with an average of 200 coffee trees and farm sizes of 0.5 - 2 acres. The remaining 10% of coffee is produced by 101 registered coffee estates. According to the Tanzania District Coffee Profile (2018-2019), about 191,500 hectares are under coffee production in 52 growing districts. The profile also indicates that the country has a huge potential land of about 741,895 hectares for coffee production expansion in both the current districts growing the crop and others not doing so.
Notably, Tanzania coffee production has stagnated for more 20 years with an average production of 50,000 Metric Tonnes (MT). The stagnation is largely attributable to low productivity triggered by low coffee prices, large numbers of ageing coffee trees as well as deficient coffee husbandry practices such as inadequate use of industrial fertilisers. Currently, average productivity for Arabica stands at 0.25 Kgs/Tree and 0.35 Kgs/Tree for Robusta. This productivity is far lower than Colombia’s 1.1 Kgs/Tree for Arabica and Brazil’s 2.5 Kgs/Tree for Robusta, the countries which properly apply fertiliser and have replanting schemes in addition to fostering good agricultural practices (TaCRI, GAIN, 2019 and Ruben et al., 2018).