Dar Eyes To Patent Its Coffee

Tanzania is in a process of patenting its coffee with an eye to protect originality and quality in an effort to bolster the crop competitiveness at the world market.

This means that the Africa's fourth-largest coffee producer after Ethiopia, Uganda and Cote I ‘devoir, will be exporting its coffee with an exclusive trademark.

Tanzania Coffee Board (TBC) is currently finalizing talks with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in a bid to assist the state-run board to patent the crop.

WIPO is one of 17 UN specialised agencies established in 1967 to foster intellectual property rights – patents, copyrights, trademarks and designs - in a bid to inspire innovation and creativity across the world.

“The move will not only protect Tanzania’s coffee originality, but also control the quality and enhance competitiveness of the crop at the global market,” TCB director General Adolph Kimburu said.

Experts hope the patent will also curb rampant coffee smuggling, particularly in Kagera Region.

One-third of annual Kagera's 10,000 metric tonnes of coffee, the black gold -- is being drained away by smuggling. The crop illegally exported to Uganda, where the country repackages and re-exports the produce.

Intelligence sources say the smugglers are known to be well-off syndicates with large sums of money available across the Tanzania and Uganda border.

Multi-million-dollars are being lost to Tanzania through coffee smuggling, foreign exchange the country needs to alleviate poverty.

Last year there were high-level meetings by the state to find ways of ending the racket, where President Jakaya Kikwete directed the Kagera regional authorities to curb the coffee smuggling.

Kagera Robusta and natural Arabica coffees grown in the region,  account for 25 percent of some 40,000 metric tonnes of Tanzania's annual coffee output.

With $180 million worth of receipts annually, coffee has been Tanzania’s largest cash crop earning, sustaining over 440,000 families.

Production of the crop is concentrated in five main geographic areas north of the country covering Kilimanjaro Region, Arusha Region and Tarime District in the west, Kigoma and Kagera regions in the south and Mbeya, Iringa and Ruvuma regions in southern highlands.

Despite vast opportunities, including large tracts of volcanic soils suitable for high quality coffee farming, Tanzania’s production of coffee stagnated at 40,000 metric tonnes a year over the last three decades.

The country boasts of having 4.8 million hectares of land suitable for coffee farming of which only 200,000 ha, nearly 35 per cent, is utilized.

The industry players say Tanzania has not fully utilised its huge market potential compared to other countries producing the coveted Colombian mild Arabica coffee and the Bukoba’s Robusta. Bukoba is now considered one of the world's top qualities Robusta, they added.

Over 95 per cent of Tanzania's coffee is exported. The country’s standards are not only high, but also the intricate system of international market policies and commodity prices are also dictated.

The TCB’s 10-year strategy aims at driving a 50-per cent increase in coffee production to 80,000 metric tonnes a year by 2016 and reach a peak of 100,000 metric tonnes by 2021.

The envisaged increase shall go hand in hand with an increase in quality from the current 35 per cent premium coffee to at least 70 per cent of the total national coffee production.

Tanzania mainly produces Arabica and Robusta coffee. Prices of the country’s Arabica normally attract the New York market while those of Robusta take their route to London.



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