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TANZANIA Itende JKT AA/AB
Farm: Itende (1652 MASL), Mbeya city
Producer: Tanzanian army – national youth program
Cultivars: N39, Bourbon, Kent
Processing: Fully washed
Itende is a cup full of blackcurrant and molases-like sweetness and a green coffee with a fascinating back story. JKT coffees are produced through the Tanzanian Army’s National Youth Program. The National Service – or Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa (JKT) in Swahili – offers alternatives to young people who have neither the opportunities nor the resources to access higher education. The programme is voluntary, and young people who inscribe are taught life-skills that enhance their ability to gain employment and income in areas such as agriculture, masonry, carpentry and entrepreneurship.
The Itende camp is special in its focus on agriculture – and coffee in particular. The programme’s coffee plantations extend across 200 acres. They have built their own nursery in which they have begun to cultivate their own seedlings. Through the land, there is a very healthy looking stream which is a vital source of fresh, clean water. In fact, considering the rural environs, it is surprising that Itende is located only 1.5 km from the city centres of Mbeya – another feature that makes it attractive to the young people who attend.
Young people from all over the country attend the programme – usually for 3 to 6 months – and those who show initiative can apply for employment immediately after finishing their training. In addition to training in coffee cultivation, they learn skills in farming other agricultural crops (maize, beans and sunflower) and in carpentry and masonry. (source: Mercanta).