Farm: Katavi Community
Varietal: Bourbon, Kent
Processing: Fully washed, sun dried
Altitude: approx 1,650 metres
Owner: Smallholders from around Katavi
Town / City: Various
Katavi AB - Tanzania
This coffee was grown and processed by approximately 200 smallholder farmers from the Katavi region of southwest Tanzania. The coffee has been, like much coffee from the south of Tanzania, ‘home processed’ – essentially semi-washed – at farmers’ own homes, where the coffee is pulped, fermented and sundried using hand powered and locally crafted equipment. The coffee is then collected by our regional partner, Coffee Management Systems, and delivered to their dry mill in Mbozi, where it is milled and sorted. This particular lot is composed of ALL of the AB quality from the area, and it is the first time it has been sold under its own name rather than being mixed in bulk lots!
20% or more of all coffee grown in Tanzania is grown in the south of the country, and the region’s high altitudes and fertile soil present good climatic conditions for growing high-quality coffee. Despite this perfect setting, the South is often overshadowed by the coffee growing reputation of the North – for instance, the well-known coffee producing slopes of Kilimanjaro. However, two factors are working to put the south of Tanzania more firmly ‘on the coffee map’. As climatic shifts make it increasingly difficult to grow quality Arabica at lower altitudes, the high reaches of Tanzania’s southern plateaus stand to become gradually more important and well-known. Climate change studies suggest that this is one of the only areas in the country that will continue to produce coffee (and even potentially increase in suitability for coffee production) as temperatures shift. Additionally, as population pressure and urban sprawl in the north of the country nibbles into traditional coffee growing areas, Katavi (along with other southern coffee-growing areas such as Mbeya, Iringa and Ruvuma) look increasingly poised to emerge at the forefront of Tanzanian coffee.
Katavi was established as a clearly delineated region only recently – in 2012. Previously it was included as part of the Rukwa region surrounding Lake Rukwa, just north of Mbeya. Although the region is rich in wildlife and encompasses the Katavi national park among other game reserves, the area has historically been one of the least economically developed in Tanzania. Known primarily for maize and some tobacco, coffee as a wide-spread cash crop is relatively new. However, it is set to grow in importance, as the region has been targeted by Tanzanian coffee board’s sustainability project (launched in 2011) which seeks to improve coffee quality and increase productivity in ‘alternative’ and new regions in order to make up for losses due to climate and population impacts in the North. The goal for the 2014/5 harvest in the Katavi Region has been to increase production to reach 15 metric tonnes of parchment, compared to 3.5 metric tonnes in the 2012/2013 season.