Arusha — Tanzania exports over a million metric tonne of beans to ten countries in Africa as well as India, making it the sole producer of the important legume to millions of people on the continent.
That was revealed here during a special agricultural experts meeting aimed at addressing the issue of 'Unlocking potential of seed companies to reach smallholder farmers with quality seeds for improved bean varieties,' in Northern Zone of Tanzania.
The Country Coordinator for International Centre for Agriculture (ICA), Mr Jean Claude, said the neighbouring country, Kenya, alone imports over 200,000 metric tonnes of beans every year, a consignment which constitutes the country's 50 per cent of legumes consumption.
Mr Claude listed other African countries depending on beans from Tanzania as Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but again, India across the ocean, is also a good consumer of Tanzanian grown legumes.
But, while beans grown in Tanzania are exported to more than ten countries in Africa as well as Asia, it was pointed out during the meeting that legume production in the country is still far from being satisfactory and hits well below its actual potential, despite commanding good market share elsewhere.
When it comes to beans production, it is Kigoma and Kagera regions that top the bill with each harvesting an average of 90,000 tonnes per season; other precincts in the top seven include Tanga (50,000 tonnes), Kilimanjaro (45,000 tonnes), Geita (35,000 tonnes), Arusha (35,000 tonnes) and Njombe (20,000 tonnes) regions.
Eleven other regions produce around 10,000 tonnes of beans each. The latest total figure for annual legumes production figure for entire country was not readily available, but the area currently placed under beans cultivation has reached over 1.3 million hectares and that nearly 1.5 million metric tonnes used to be harvested in the last few years.
The Principal National Leguminous Crop Researcher, Mr Papias Binagwa, said the consumption of beans among Tanzanians leaves a lot to be desired because, "the consumption per capita stands 19.6 kilogrammes per year which means a person consumes 60 grams a day, which is almost insignificant," he said.