THERE is a pressing need for Tanzania and other African countries to strive for value addition through processing of their agricultural produce if they have to attain long term sustainable development.
This has been said by UN Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) country representative Emmanuel Kalenzi at the launch "Agribusiness for Africa's prosperity" book in Dar es Salaam.
"There is need to see a different pattern where African countries should move up the value ladder," he said, adding that the continent should be able to add at least half the value added in the high-income countries, to improve from the current figure of USD 40 per tonne to at least USD 90 per tonne of agriculture produce over the next 10 years.
According to the book, the high- income countries add up to USD 180 of value by processing one ton of agriculture produce but developing countries add only USD 40 to one ton. Whereas 98 per cent of agriculture production in industrialized countries undergoes processing, only 30 per cent is processed in developing countries.
"The figures can be worse if we went in details on individual countries given the huge difference between countries in this category," he said. The book, produced with the support from UNIDO and co-authored by the UNIDO Director General, examines the scope for promoting agribusiness as a dynamic source of sustainable prosperity in Africa.
It makes a clear case for a holistic approach and presents seven pillars as key for agriculture sector transformation. Mr Kalenzi appreciated the thrust the government of Tanzania is putting on agriculture and its linkages to industry, through "Kilimo Kwanza" and feeding into the "Big Fives Now" strategy to the country's development vision of a semi-industrialised, middle income economy by 2025.
He noted that while agriculture remains an important player in the country's socioeconomic drive, and indeed for the entire continent of Africa, it will remain an illusion to anticipate many gains without a major transformation. Tanzania's Industry and Trade Minister, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, concurred with the view that without industrialization and value addition, Africa will not achieve prosperity.
Dr Kigoda said the continent will have to move away from food aid and subsistence farming, and that agribusiness is a foreign trade instrument that can attract investment to the continent. "Tanzania should make a clear distinction between subsistence farming and agribusiness with value addition," he added.
The co-editor of the book and the UNIDO Representative to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Patrick Kormawa, outlined the importance of creating agribusiness cluster development zones within the country, as well as of commodity value addition and agribusiness for job creation.