Dark clouds are gathering in the sky over Katembe village, Karagwe, Tanzania. It is about to rain. Rain is very welcome at this time of year although this season it had been delayed. Theodory Kibombo looks with concern at some of his Robusta coffee trees. The flowers have dried up because the rain came late. It will be a substantially reduced harvest for the farmer resulting in financial worries. Coffee makes up part of his annual income which is under threat as climate changes. Other factors such as access to information on what makes up a good quality coffee, when is the right time to rejuvenate the trees and which seedlings to buy from make the life of this farmer difficult.
The Tanzanian coffee sector has identified the many challenges smallholder coffee farmers are facing. To address the challenges the Sustainable Coffee Sector Committee, under the leadership of the National Coffee Stakeholder Committee in Tanzania sat down together and prepared a curriculum, the National Sustainability Curriculum (NSC), that strengthens the delivery of extension services to smallholder farmers.
The curriculum sets a minimum standard for delivering extension services resulting in higher productivity, increasing coffee quality and better livelihoods for farmers. Funded by the Tanzania Coffee Board, the Coffee Partnership for Tanzania, and the Sustainable Coffee Programme of IDH, and with the technical support of Café Africa Tanzania, the curriculum is actively being rolled out in districts such as Mbinga, Mbozi and Karagwe.
The National Sustainability Curriculum is an amazing manual which contains modules such as:
The manual enables trainers to plan and hold trainings in a very practical and hand-on manner. Case studies, examples and practical exercises make this manual tangible for farmers. The NSC not only teaches farmers good agricultural practices but also increases the business mind-set of small holder farmers.
The NSC will strengthen the delivery of extension services to farmers by supporting the national institutions in setting and maintaining minimum standards for extension services, resulting in:
The roll out of the NSC is an ongoing process which is supported by the Global Coffee Platform, which works in partnership with the Tanzanian stakeholders to support a more sustainable coffee sector. The next steps will implement post-training monitoring and evaluation in all zones where the NSC trainings were conducted. The Zonal Sustainability Curriculum (ZSC) committee will fully participate in executing all monitoring and evaluation activities. Periodic reviews of the NSC material, training process and approach for subsequent knowledge updates are in progress.
Furthermore, this model will be replicated in other coffee production zones incorporating lessons learnt from previous trainings. In emerging coffee areas, where there will now be organized groups of farmers trained to a consistent baseline the use of the NSC will encourage private sector investment in quality improvement and market linkages.
Theodory Kibombo is a promising example of a pro-active farmer who will make use of is newly acquired knowledge through the NSC training. His organic farm now provides a demo plot where farmers and extension services trainers can gather for trainings and at the same time learn hands-on about coffee growing.
The Global Coffee Platform is currently supporting the development, roll out and improvement of Sustainability Curricula in Tanzania, Uganda, Brazil, Vietnam and Indonesia.
By Caroline Glowka, with kind support of the Café Africa field staff.