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The price of coconut in Zanzibar has shot up and the residents of Unguja Island are displeased.
The current price of this precious commodity is now selling at Tsh1,500 – 2,000 ($0.64-0.86) in the Unguja commodity market depending on size and retail location, causing panic amongst the region’s residents.
The archipelago’s Minister for Agriculture Shamata Shaame Khamis has noted that the inflation of the price of coconut was brought about by furniture makers, cutting down coconut trees in droves to make furniture, which inadvertently has reduced the production of coconut.
When you look to (increasing) construction of hotels, according to information that we get, the coconut tree has increased its value in furniture making,” Khamis told KTV TZ Online.
He noted that the wood from coconut trees makes for better furniture, which is drawing the attention of realtors.
Another problem in Unguja is that growers or owners are harvesting immature coconuts, owing to a rise in demand.
The minister also disclosed that the speed of re-growing coconut trees to compensate on lost ones has been overtaken by carpentry demand for such wood.
Results of a tree census conducted between 2013 and 2014 in the archipelago estimated that only 3.4 million coconut trees were available as compared to 5.7 million in the late 1900s.
Hotels are the primary customers for coconut tree wood in Zanzibar. It was revealed by a local farmer Mohammed Daudi, that the wood has become too precious for hotel owners, owing to its aesthetics and feel.
Furniture made from trees have even become an attraction for tourists who prefer a rural feel.
The panic following the rise of coconut prices in the region is a result of the crop’s importance to the residents. A household in the Ugunja region uses three coconuts for cooking dishes per day. This, of course, means that the rise in price of this one crop increases the cost of living for the average resident.
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