MONDAY March 7, 2022
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
Tanzania’s campaign to make agriculture sexy is gathering momentum at last with the East African Community (EAC) and Germany lending a hand in unlocking the potential for the sleeping giant to occupy its right place in the region.
Agriculture though encompasses economic activities for over 70 per cent of the population, contributes barely 27 per cent of the GDP, thanks to a myriad of hiccups, including low productivity, high post-harvest losses, minimal value addition and poor natural resources management exacerbating vulnerability to climatic change-related risks.
The Tanzania Minister for Agriculture, Mr Hussein Bashe, told players in the horticulture industry Early last month that President Samia Suluhu Hassan would sometime this month unveil a countrywide campaign aimed at roping the youth into the sector currently dominated by the elderly.
Challenges keeping the youth at bay mostly are low expenditure on research and development, poor infrastructure, low use of improved technologies and irrigation, inappropriate policies directly or indirectly taxing the agriculture sector, capacity weaknesses in agricultural institutions, lack of financial mechanisms and poor coordination of responses to emerging issues and emergencies.
“Lack of leadership and other incentives such as access to internet in rural areas are inhibiting the youth from engaging in the sector,” the EAC Director of Productive Sectors, Mr Jean Baptiste Havugimana, observed recently.
Mr Bashe said Sh5 billion (over $2.2 million) would be budgeted annually for the Building Better Tomorrow campaign which would see agricultural parks developed and block farms of at least 50-hecatare each surveyed and supplied with water and equipped with essential infrastructure, including irrigation schemes and roads.
Even before the campaign is officially launched, Mr Bashe is, along with the German envoy to Tanzania, Ms Regine Hess, expected to jointly flag off the country’s first international agricultural expo in Arusha, Tanzania, on Friday, apparently as part of the marketing strategy for the movement.
Mr Tom Kunkler, one of the Managing Directors of the KILIFAIR Promotion Company Limited, the organisers of the TANFOOD Expo 2022, said 120 exhibitors from across East Africa would take part in the three-day international show.
The Expo will also provide players in agriculture, mostly those from the horticulture sub-sector, with information on farming innovation, packaging and processing, quality seeds, agriculture equipment, pesticides and chemical areas.
“A range of agribusiness-sector experts will provide comprehensive expertise to the exhibitors and the visiting farmers,” said Mr Kunkler, explaining that there would be seminars and workshops to educate farmers on improvements and developments.
The TAHA Group Chief Development Manager, Mr Anthony Chamanga, believed the Expo would give over 19,700 members of the group, who produce high quality vegetables at international market standards, a glimpse of unlimited opportunities.
Mr Dominic Shoo, the KILIFAIR co-Managing Director, said, in turn: “This sector does not only feed our nation, it also feeds most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We’ve invested in the Expo with international standards to showcase the taste of Tanzania.”
Mr Havugimana believed the Expo would go a long way in achieving the target of the region to increase its area under cultivation by 5 per cent to 10 million hectares, reduce post-harvest losses from 40 per cent to 20 per cent and to raise agro-processing from 8 per cent to 16 per cent.
The Deputy Programme Manager with GIZ, Mr Bernd Schmidt, said support of the German international cooperation agency in market access for agricultural products met objectives of the EAC on strengthening agro-processing value chains and trade in agricultural products in the region.
GIZ has for over 20 years now been supporting market access for agricultural products through Support to East African Market-Driven and People-Centred Integration (SEAMPEC) project on behalf of its country and the European Union (EA).
The SEAMPEC project has been focusing on policy formulation and dialogue in fruits and vegetables and on improving collaboration of the public and the private sector to enhance value addition and trade of the same crops within the region.
The project has also been supporting the EAC partner states in minimising post-harvest losses and increasing markets for processed fruits and vegetables.
GIZ has, in addition, been supporting improved competitiveness and export of coffee, tea, cocoa, horticulture and spices value chains through the EAC-EU Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP).
Four new EAC-wide standards in the cocoa sector have been developed and adopted by the EAC Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment and a common approach for verification and clearance of pre-packaged food products at the region’s borders was adopted under the MARKUP and will be rolled out soonΩ