WEDNESDAY 20, 2023
By Adam Ihucha
The Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania
A new chapter has unfolded in northern Tanzania as thousands of local farmers proudly hold aloft their hard-earned international standards certifications, marking a momentous shift towards safer, sustainable, and rewarding farming.
To be precise, four groups of horticultural farmers with nearly 1,000 members in Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions have secured GlobalG.A.P certificates, a significant breakthrough for the smallholder farmers exporting their crops to international markets.
GlobalG.A.P is an internationally recognised set of farm standards dedicated to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) developed by European countries to ensure food safety, safe farming practices, workers and animals’ welfare as well as facilitating export trade internationally.
The Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Mr Nurdin Babu, handed over the GlobalG.A.P. certificates to Shamkeri growers and Umoja Arusha from Arusha Region and Mamba Miamba Ginger Growers Cooperative and Umoja Kilimanjaro from Kilimanjaro Region in Moshi Municipality, Taqnzania, recently.
Mr Babu thanked TAHA and the Food and Forestry Development Finland (FFD Finland) for facilitating the ideal accreditation, saying it would go a long way in unlocking a treasure trove of opportunities for the dedicated horticultural farmers, whose doors to lucrative global markets with discerning buyers eagerly waiting for their high-quality, responsibly farmed produce, now swing open.
With the certifications, French beans, peas, bitter gourd, ginger, avocado, chilli and other capsicum variety growers from Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions are no longer restrained by geographic boundaries, as they can now tap into premium prices and reliable demand across the world.
Ezekiel Ndika, a ginger farmer from Same District in Kilimanjaro Region expressed his earnest hope that the GlobalG.A.P certification would unlock lucrative markets for their crop.
“It’s like a miracle, we are extremely happy for the feat. We are now sure that our horticultural crops will be competitive at the world market. Thank you TAHA and FFD-Finland for your generous support,” chipped in Prisca Kimaro, a farmer from Arusha Region.
“Serving as a testament to their unwavering dedication and transformative power of sustainable practices, the globally trusted emblem makes them stand out of the farmers’ crowd at the market,” said the TAHA Food Safety and Standards Coordinator, Mr Zacharia Kiputa.
Their unwavering focus on safety did not only assure their consumers worldwide of their health and well being, noted Mr Kiputa, adding that it also paved way for long-term trust and loyalty.
“Their commitment to excellence shines through in every step, from meticulous handling of their crops to stringent storage and transportation protocols they adhere to,” he explained.
The accredited local farmers are not alone in this journey. TAHA, a pioneer in Tanzania’s horticultural excellence, is beside them, etching a symbol of quality and excellence into their produce.
Through Quality Standards for Enhanced Market Access for Small Holder Farmers in Tanzania (SEMA) project, TAHA equips the farmers with preparedness in complying with and meeting international market requirements on food safety and standards.
Since 2012, TAHA has been collaborating with FFD in different interventions in supporting smallholder farmers and the Tanzania horticultural industry at large, according to Mr Kiputa who doubles as SEMA coordinator.
The Executive Associate to TAHA CEO, Mr Simon Mlay, said their collaboration aimed at improving, increasing and diversifying production, reducing post-harvest losses, and building market linkages in a holistic development of the local horticultural value chain.
“The ongoing SEMA (2021 – 2024) project has continued enhancing the capacity of TAHA to deliver different services and support the horticultural industry in the country,” he noted.
It is understood, SEMA has strengthened the TAHA Agronomists capacities in quality standards, including the GlobalG.A.P, which is widely applied in international horticultural trade.
“Through SEMA, TAHA has 15 Agronomists licensed on the GlobalG.A.P. standards, and they are recognised as Registered Trainers, formerly Farmer Assurers, and five auditors in its portfolio,” Mr Mlay explained.
The goal is to build a critical mass of GlobalG.A.P. standards experts and auditors, enhance export market compliance, raise food safety awareness, promote sustainable farming practices and reduce certification costs for farmers, producers, off-takers and exporters in East Africa.
He said that through the project, TAHA established the Tanzania National Technical Working Group (NTWG) tasked to adopt universal standards into a local scale or context by developing guidelines dubbed National Interpretation Guidelines (NIG) for the GlobalG.A.P standards.
It is worth noting that through this project, more than 3,500 farmers, 41 per cent being female, and 35 per cent youth, were trained in GlobalG.A.P. standards, Mr Mlay explained.
Of the trained farmers, about 1,200 received Global G.A.P. certificates for various export value chains to the EU and US markets in the project areas of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Njombe and Unguja in Zanzibar.
Of the avocados produced under certified environment by the project groups, about 10,800 metric tonnes worth US$27 million, were exported in 2022 compared to 9,000 metric tonnes worth US$22.5 million exported before the project interventions in one project region of Njombe, according to the TAHA Research Information Centre (TARIC).
Additionally, 663 metric tonnes of vegetables worth US$6,364,000 were also exported in 2022, compared to 110 metric tonnes valued at US$1,063,680 exported two years before the project interventionΩ