Dar es Salaam — The government has unveiled a number of measures meant to boost horticulture as it seeks to unlock the full potential of the multi-million dollar industry.
Currently, the industry earns the economy over $700 million annually, up from $60 million in 2004, making horticulture a nascent enterprise to watch in terms of creating jobs and wealth.
Deputy minister for Agriculture Innocent Bashungwa says measures are underway to untangle the long-standing jigsaw puzzle of horticulture's inaccessibility to financing.
"The government will expand the mandate of the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) for it to serve as the coordinator of all agricultural financing in the country," Mr Bashungwa told the key players in the industry in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.
The horticulture stakeholders converged for one day to deliberate on their role and that of the entire private sector at large in the second phase of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (ASDP).
Simpler and friendlier regulations for horticultural businesses are also high on the measures the government is taking in a bid to spur growth, he explains.
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An equally important step the government is working on is the cutbacks of unnecessary bureaucracy to, among other hurdles, ease the process for exporters to secure certificates.
Mr Bashungwa says the government is aware of the potential of horticulture for creating jobs for youth, generating wealth, revenues and for guaranteeing the country with food security.
The deputy minister says the government is also linking up horticulture with industries for it to grow leaps and bounds. "We're very committed to support the industry," he says.
Indeed, transformations of the agricultural sector through value addition of primary products influences the pattern of growth of economies and investments in industry and service sectors globally.
The ASDP II is designed to reinforce smallholder commercialisation focus with the view of supporting farmers to graduate from subsistence farming to semi-commercial status by practicing farming as businesses.
Tanzania Horticultural Association (Taha) Board member Peter Ngongoseke says he is upbeat the ASDP II will scale-up the association's efforts of scouting markets for horticulture.
Taha Group CEO Jacqueline Mkindi says inaccessibility to financing, unfriendly policies and bureaucracy were but some of the challenges holding back the growth of horticulture in the country.
With an annual growth rate of 12 per cent, the industry has turned into the growth driver of the entire Tanzania's agricultural sector with an average growth rate of 4 per cent only. Horticulture's input to overall agrarian exports value has grown by 30 per cent on average and is poised for leaps and bounds.
The ASDP II blueprint underlines the need for forging robust and dynamic linkages between smallholder farmers and commercial input and output supply chains for the agro-industrial sector to produce for the market.
"Whilst the focus will clearly be on the smallholder sub-sector, the blueprint encourages greater inclusive private sector participation, both in commercial agricultural production and in marketing, agro-processing and farm input supply chains," says ASDP II national coordinator Zacharia Muyengi.
The blueprint gives special attention to investments in rural infrastructure and agro-processing, especially in grain milling and packaging, as well as to sustainable utilisation of natural resources in order to expand the market, especially for priority crops.