Written by Ibrahimu Mwankanye, Cooperative Advisor in Tanzania
MUFINDI Tea Cooperative Joint Enterprise LTD (MUTCOJE LTD) is a cooperative association that came into being during a joint project of cooperatives, involved in tea cultivation in MUFINDI District in Tanzania. In 2022, MUTCOJE LTD was formed and officially registered with 16 tea primary cooperatives. Their main crop is green tea leaf which is sold to tea processing factories. Currently, MUTCOJE LTD serves about 1807 individual members and active clients.
The common needs of the farmers that established the Tea Cooperative Joint Enterprise LTD were access to agricultural inputs (fertilisers & chemicals) and markets to sell their farm inputs in a reasonable time, at a reasonable price. Needs that, as for most farmers in developing countries, remain a challenge. Before that, all the tea primary cooperatives in the Mufindi District received farm input loans (fertilisers & chemicals), through companies that buy green tea leaves, to increase and improve the production of green tea leaves.
Thanks to advice & training from Agriterra, this season MUTCOJE LTD decided to buy their own fertiliser right away, rather than wait for a fertiliser loan through company purchases of green tea leaves, companies known for their delay in distributing fertilisers or distributing fertilisers of poor quality. As a result of this advice & training, MUTCOJE LTD learned the value of buying agricultural inputs in bulk to keep costs low and increase productivity.
On the 8th of November 2022, during the board members & representatives’ meeting on behalf of the annual general meeting (16 tea primary cooperatives), the board of MUTCOJE LTD voted in favour of buying fertilisers in bulk from well-known suppliers and loaning it to farmer members at a competitive price. However, MUTCOJE LTD still did not have sufficient working capital and banks were unwilling to lend the money. That is why MUTCOJE LTD applied for a bank loan from CRDB Bank to purchase farm inputs (fertilisers).
As a result, in March 2023, the CRDB Bank approved a bank guarantee of TZS 643,160,000 in favour of the fertiliser supplier to sell to MUTCOJE LTD 9188 bags of YARA Mila Java (NPK) to be distributed among its farmer members.