Dar es Salaam — Horticulture industry has been singled out as the main contributor to foreign earnings in the agricultural sector, thanks to the increase of private investments of the sector in the country.
According to Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), the contribution of horticulture to the forex earnings in the country has now reached to 35% in 2011 which is equivalent to $389m from a mere 3% in 2000.
TAHA's Executive Director, Ms Jacqueline Mkindi told East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam last week that the country's horticultural exports revealing a significant growth of 6.7% of the export value for the past five years (2006/07 to 2010/11).
"This increase was due to increased private investments in the industry including new investments and expansion of existing investments, increased production as well as improved market opportunities abroad," Ms Mkindi said.
Vegetables are the leading export products in terms of value and volume from horticulture, according to Ms Mkindi, Tanzania exports more than 15 varieties of vegetables to various countries mostly European, Indian, Kenya and South Africa.
Mkindi said that most important ones include dried beans/peas, french beans and baby corns.
Recently, she added, few farmers have started production and export of some relatively new types of vegetables such as green and yellow patty pan, couguette, turnips, baby leeks, beet roots and baby carrots.
"Most of fresh vegetables are exported to European countries such as the UK and Netherlands and some to Kenya, where they are usually repacked for re-export," she said.
According to her, the main market for dried vegetables on the other hand is India, which absorbs most of dried shelled peas. In 2009 alone, India imported dried peas from Tanzania worth $32m.
India is the leading world importer of dry shelled peas spending about $730m for importation of the product in 2008.
However, TAHA's Policy Analyst, Mr Anthony Chamanga said that Tanzania still struggling to export significant quantities of fruits.
"The main fresh fruit exports are strawberries to Netherlands and South Africa, avocados to Kenya (re-packing for re-export to UK) and small quantities of grapes and water melon to Kenya," Chamanga said.
Yet, he said there significant exports of oranges and pineapples to Kenya which are not properly recorded. "There are also exports for orange juice, with Mozambique being the main destination in 2011, worth $1.2m.
The main component of spice exports in cloves. The UAE is the market for cloves, receiving more than half of the total country exports. Other important markets are Indonesia, Singapore and Pakistan.
Chamanga said flowers are exported mainly to Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavian countries. Flower production is mainly concentrated in Arusha and Kilimanjaro in the northern part of Tanzania and few varieties are produced in Zanzibar and Southern Highlands.
In another development, TAHA launched three advocacy projects aimed at improving horticulture. According to Ms Mkindi the projects are mainly geared towards advocating policy reforms and operational challenges affecting the competitiveness of the industry.
Mkindi said the idea is to address the needs of the industry stakeholders and respond to various aspects key to boost Tanzania horticulture, financial resources as well as building internal capacity. TAHA has engaged BEST-AC in mobilizing the required support in terms of research and communication capacity to implement the projects. BEST-AC is a grant programme that assists business membership organizations to create a better business environment.