Zambia’s Coffee Output to Halve on Lack of Funds, Growers Say

By Geoffrey Kapembwa

July 29 (Bloomberg) — Zambia’s coffee output may halve in the 2008/9 harvesting season as a lack of funds drives farmers out of business, the Zambian Coffee Growers Association said.

Output dropped to an average 1,800 metric tons during 2007/8 season and a further decline of more than 50 percent is expected during the 2008/9 harvesting season, running from May to September, the association’s general manager, Joseph Taguma, said in Lusaka by phone today.

“We would be able to double output of coffee and meet demand on local and foreign markets if funding was available,” he said.

Farmers have been forced to abandon coffee-growing due to banks’ requirements for guarantees on loan repayments. Farmers need between $10 million and $20 million each year to buy more land to meet demand from local, European and Nordic markets, Taguma said. The number of commercial coffee farmers in Zambia, which produces only arabica coffee, has fallen from 60 last year to 11 now, while the number of small-scale farmers has contracted from 200 to 41 over the same period.

The association has asked government to intervene in the matter to “save the industry from collapse,” Taguma said.

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