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Taraba coffee farmers struggle amid funding challenges

Coffee is one crop that has suffered total neglect by both federal and state governments despite the country having potentials for commercial production. Despite the…

Coffee is one crop that has suffered total neglect by both federal and state governments despite the country having potentials for commercial production.

Despite the neglect, some smallholder farmers who still have passion for the cash crop still make money from coffee as the case in Sardauna Local Government Area of Taraba State indicates.

Findings by Daily Trust on Sunday revealed that there are many small- scale coffee farmers in Kusugu, kakara, Nguroje, Yarimaro, Yelwa and Likitaba, among other towns in Sardauna.

Most of the farmers, it was gathered, produce few bags of coffee beans because they lack money to set up big farms.

Suleiman Kakara, one of the small coffee farmers, told our coorespondent that coffee farming required big capital. He said apart from land, a farmer would need money to buy seedlings, fertiliser, pest control chemical and water pumping machines.

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He said Sardauna Local Government was the only area in Nigeria where coffee is produced.

Another farmer, Musa Cindo, said a farmer needed a good capital to establish a big coffee farm where many bags could be produced.

He said a farmer would need a coffee nursery before embarking on farming.

Musa Chindo said farmers would make good fortune from coffee farming, but because they lacked capacity in terms of fund, they limit their activities to smallholding farming.

Findings revealed that coffee take between two and three years to mature, and it is harvested once in a year.

Our correspondent further gathered that there is high demand of coffee in the country and the price is good.

It was further gathered that those in the business of coffee processing and sale source their beans from Sardauna.

Most of the farmers in the area grow their coffee at the back of their houses, while others have small farms with few coffee trees, yet they make good income.

Our correspondent also gathered that the quantity of coffee produced in Sardauna do not meet the demand of those coming to buy the produce.

As a result of the increasing demand for coffee, many residents now engage in buying large quantities from neighbouring Cameroon.

Alhaji Kabir, a businessman, told our correspondent that farmers in Sardauna Local Government lacked the capacity to produce the coffee that could meet the demand of buyers from Lagos, Maiduguri and other places; and therefore, many businessmen take the advantage to buy the raw coffee from neighbouring Cameroon and processed for sell.

Findings revealed that there are local coffee processors who make good money from processing locally and sell within and outside Taraba State.

“Many residents, including women, process coffee beans and bag them into small and big sachets and supply to merchants, who supply the products to markets and supermarkets,” a resident, Yakubu said.

Yakubu said many people preferred coffee processed locally because of its good test.

He said though farmers were making good money from coffee farming, many had opted for tea farming because it is easy to produce tea than coffee.

“Farmers need to be supported to produce coffee in commercial quantities to meet the country’s demand,” he said.

In terms of good return, coffee farming is also lucrative, however, it requires long-time investment compared to tea production.

Findings also revealed that there is a coffee research centre at Kusuku village, located close to Highland Tea Company at Kakara.

Farmers interviewed said the federal government should support them with fund to expand their activities as it is done for tea production.

A farmer, Buba Saidu, said that the area had the capacity to produce coffee needed for consumption in the country and for export, but there was the absence of incentive to farmers to expand their capacity.

The farmers called on the federal government to look at coffee as a potential for foreign exchange and incentivise farmers to go into massive production.

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