AfricaPress-Tanzania: strategy to boost the growth of the country’s horticultural industry has won the hearts and minds of key players, saying the blueprint is an impetus for their painstaking efforts.
In his inaugural speech of the 12th Parliament in Dodoma on Friday last week, Dr Magufuli identified horticulture as among the key industries of the economy to be enjoying special preferences, pledging to procure a cargo aircraft to lift its exports, among other perishables.
Earning the economy 412m US dollars in 2015, the commercial horticulture comprising five key value chains of flowers, fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs in 2019 brought home 779m US dollars, becoming among the world’s 20 largest producers, President Magufuli noted.
Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) Group Chief Executive Officer Dr Jacqueline Mkindi praised the President Magufuli’s plan, dubbing it as a ‘Renaissance’ of horticulture in the country and she immediately outlined steps to unlock the industry’s enormous potential and achieve 3bn US dollars in export value in 2025.
“This is a new dawn for horticulture, thanks to President Magufuli for putting the industry on top of the agenda. For the first time, the Head of State has recognised the industry as the key economic driving force and pledged to unleash its enormous potential,” said Dr Mkindi in a statement.
“We are humbled and overfilled by joy now that we are moving to the right direction.”
She said Tanzania has all it takes to become a giant horticultural producer in Africa and could turnaround the country’s economy and drive the majority people from abject poverty to a ‘promised land of milk and honey’.
Horticulture had played a central role than any other sub-sectors in all countries that successfully achieved to turn the agricultural sector into an economic giant, like Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Peru, Mexico and Israel, Dr Mkindi explained.
The TAHA boss, who doubles as Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) Chairperson, said to forge a robust Public- Private Partnership (PPPs) to spearhead the mission is of paramount importance, in order to achieve this ambitious target.
“Through PPPs model, we can create synergies, share resources, and will be able to leverage our experiences to attain the desired goal,” she explained in the statement.
To unleash the full potential of horticulture, Dr Mkindi said the country ought to put in place a structure to realise five key drivers of horticulture or agriculture transformation, namely market access, enhanced productivity, an enabling environment that supports innovation, capital access or financial services and skills development.
She underlined the need of appropriate infrastructures such as collection centres and trucks to ease post-harvest loss, competitive airports and ports furnished with cold chain management system to support handling of perishables like horticultural crops, beef and fish from production sites to the overseas markets.
Dr Mkindi highlighted availability and accessibility of quality seeds of improved varieties, cost-efficiency inputs, cutting-edge irrigation technologies and guarantee good agricultural practices to comply with global standards, are just a few factors to improve production and productivity.
She further said the industry needs favourable, predictable and consistent policies as well as incentives packages, to woo new domestic and foreign investors and cater for the existing ones.
“Through PPPs, we should come-up with a package of incentives to encourage local and foreign direct investments, in a bid to spur the industry rapid growth in the next five years,” the TAHA boss noted.
The production of cut flowers, for instance, is both capital- and knowledge-intensive, she noted, adding that the horticultural industry players need accessibility of long-term credits for them to expand their ventures. Now than ever before, commercial farmers deserve crops insurance.
Skills development is also a cornerstone for the industry to grow, Dr Mkindi explained, adding that at the moment, the country needs skilled personnel to offer extension services in the entire agricultural sector value chain.
The government plan is to exploit the vast potential of horticulture in a bid to make it grow and be a multi-billion-dollars industry in the next five years.
Horticulture is one of the priority sub-sectors of exports and key in diversification of the agricultural sector from overdependence on traditional cash crops, because it has a potential to be the major source of quick foreign exchange earnings.
The strategy envisages a developing of robust and competitive horticultural industry to make the country self-sufficient in nutrition, increase incomes and reduce poverty while boosting productivity and quality of the produce for domestic, regional and international markets.