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INTERNATIONAL - Tanzanian Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga said on Thursday the east African nation's target of producing 100,000 tonnes of coffee in the next four years might not be realized due to dependence on old coffee varieties that are susceptible to diseases and pests.

Launching new guidelines on coffee production in the country's leading coffee growing region of Kilimanjaro, Hasunga said most of the current varieties were vulnerable to disease and pests attacks resulting in low yields.

"The leading snag facing the coffee industry is the continued use of old coffee trees that are susceptible to diseases and pests," said the official.

He added: "We should start with uprooting the old coffee trees and replacing them with the high yielding and disease resistant varieties."

Hasunga said new agronomic techniques including growing newly-introduced varieties as recommended by the experts of the cash crop will see increased yields.

He urged the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) and the Tanzania Coffee Research Institute (TACRI) to ensure new varieties of coffee trees were distributed to farmers.

Hasunga admitted that production of coffee, once the leading export cash crop for Tanzania, needed major overhaul due to the declining earning to the economy.

Recent statistics from TCB showed that coffee exports for 2019/2020 season was estimated at 50,000 tonnes, down from 68,000 tonnes in 2018/2019 farming season.

Until 2000, coffee used to contribute to at least five percent of Tanzania's export earnings with Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions accounting for 20 percent of the exports.

By 2010, the country's share in the global coffee had shrunk to a mere 0.8 percent though Tanzania is ranked third after Kenya and Ethiopia in the export of Arabica coffee.

XINHUA