80 per cent of all Tanzanian cocoa is produced in Kyela district, in Mbeya region. This crop is also cultivated in the districts of Rungwe (Mbeya), Maramba (Tanga) and Ifakara (Morogoro).
It is estimated that Tanzania produces 7,000 tonnes of cocoa annually equivalent to 0.28 per cent of African cocoa production.
One cocoa farmer cultivates an average of 15kg to 250kg depending on rainfall availability and soil quality. More than 100,000 people have benefited from this crop.
One per cent of cocoa is sold to cooperative unions; hence the rest is sold to individuals, agents and companies. The annual income of cocoa farmers is approximately Shs1 million.
Cocoa produces chocolates, drinks, human remedies and cosmetics. Domestic industries are in dire need of cocoa. But farmers face reduction in the resources they need to produce a crop such as suitable land, and a reduction in the price they can get for the crop.
The cocoa tree matures and begins to produce fruit within 4 to 5 years. 70 per cent of African cocoa is used to make chocolate in European, Asian and southern countries. So with the increase in demand for chocolate worldwide, Tanzanian entrepreneurs can take advantage of cocoa production to increase household income and contribute to boost the economy through foreign exchange.
When farmers take advantage of this opportunity, the potential for a guaranteed cocoa market is high given that demand is in- creasing every year especially in developed countries including
Europe and the United States. Japhet Hasunga, Agriculture Minister stressed that the cocoa crop would remain for sale through a warehouse receipt system under the Co-operative Development Commission, so that farmers could benefit from the best prices.