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Coffee Farmers Told To Improve Crop Quality 

By Willibroad B. Nformi — Farmers in the Northwest Region have been urged to improve on the quality of their crops so as to withstand international competition.

The call was made during celebrations marking this year’s Coffee Event, organised by the Kumbo-based Promotion of Sustainable Production of Arabica Coffee Project in the Northwest Region. Gerald Ngubi, representative of the General Manager of the National Cocoa and Coffee Board, NCCB, called on the farmers to strive for  high quality coffee production so as to withstand competition in the world market.

Ngubi called for sustainable production of coffee and decried the poor ways of drying coffee by many farmers, which he said reduces the quality of the beans. He said the European Union has indicated that it shall, henceforth, test coffee for quality before allowing same on its markets.

Ngubi also criticized those who produce coffee in the Northwest Region but sell them in other Regions, saying it affects the Region as statistics give advantage to the receiving Regions.
For his part, the representative of the General Manager of OLAMCAM, Sarka Shaurya, said his organisation will do its best to market the farmers’ produce and bring back the best prices to the farmers as well.

Speaking earlier, the Project Coordinator and organiser of the Coffee Event, Austin Kidzeru, said the occasion was a come-together of stakeholders in the coffee sector to celebrate coffee. He paid tribute to OLAMCAM and Douwe Egberts Foundation which he said were the sponsors of the project. "Given the continuously falling volumes of coffee and Arabica coffee in particular from Cameroon, OLAM conceived this project and was lucky to have a reliable partner as DE Foundation that accepted to sponsor it," Kidzeru said.

The Coordinator later told the press that the issue of quality was so preoccupying that it needed to be addressed. He said coffee berry disease was a huge hindrance as some farmers usually lose over 80 percent of their produce due to the disease. Kidzeru said OLAM does not dictate coffee prices but rather the prices come from the world market.

He said last year, Kenyan coffee farmers earned FCFA 4.000 per kilogramme while their counterparts in Cameroon earned only FCFA 1.500. Kidzeru expressed optimism to see the project extended "for us to consolidate our gains over the years". The Divisional Chief of Service for Agricultural Statistics in MINADER Bui, Gregory Kwei, said the project was complimenting what his Ministry was doing.

He announced to farmers the facilities and services that MINADER was providing including seedlings. Kwei said the use of chemicals will go a long way to improve production and expressed optimism that production will surely double in the years ahead. He called on farmers to make use of cooperative union facilities dotted all over the Project Zone.

The Promotion of Sustainable Production of Arabic Coffee in the Northwest Region, which started in 2009, has succeeded in increasing coffee production, assisted farmers with interest free loans, organised trainings on non-coffee related areas such as HIV/AIDS and built mushroom houses. The project which operates in Bui, Boyo and Donga Matung Divisions of the Northwest Region has also supported schools with infrastructure and didactic materials.

First published in The Post print edition no 01389

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