AN Indian firm--Rinac -is looking for a representative to help in the distribution and marketing of its cooling facilities, blast freezers, in the country.
"I have met with four firms and I am sure we'll strike a deal with one of them and open a representative office in Tanzania," the firm's Vice- President, Mr Soji Abraham said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.
He said the blast freezers and cold rooms that add postharvest value on agricultural produce are essentially meant to help farmers to generate more money.
"Our costs (for the freezers) are reasonable," Mr Abraham told the 'Daily News' at the just ended India exhibitions at Mwalimu Nyerere grounds along Kilwa road, "I understand the country produces a lot of bananas but most of them are poorly preserved." The Rinac blast freezer that has capacity of freezing 500 kilogrmmes in four batches and a cold store of 10 metric tonnes costs 32,000 US dollars (over 50m/-).
Cold rooms are important assets in prolonging the shelflife of perishable products before reaching the export markets. It freezes at 45 centigrade, with stuffs stored at 25 centigrade up to two years, Mr Abraham said, noting that since fruits are frozen immediately after harvest before they ripe, farmers need ripening chambers that controls the sweetening process especially for bananas.
He said the construction of cold chain facilities does not take long since most are prefabricated and installed at the site. The biggest project takes up to two months to complete. Tanzania continues losing substantial amount of foreign currencies from exports of fruits and vegetables due to the lack of cold facilities to support the international trade.
According to the Association of Mango Growers (AMG ), about 600bn/- worth of fruits is each year lost to diseases and decay. The AMG attributes the losses to fruits post-harvest as producers are unaware of processing processes and preservation techniques.
There is huge export potential for fruits and vegetables in the Netherlands, Middle East, Australia and Philippines. Of an annual production of around 370,000 tones of mango, for example, only two per cent is currently reaching the export markets, with no available exports data for bananas.