GOVERNMENT has embarked on the construction of the Kurasini Trade and Logistic Centre for agro products, a crucial move aimed to transform and commercialise the agriculture sector.
Billed as the largest trade hub for agro products in the region, the ambitious project, to be implemented by the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), will cost about 30 million US dollars (over 60bn/-).
However, the actual cost and other logistics on the project implementation will be unveiled on February next year after thorough project analysis and assessment by a special committee formed by the EPZA Board of Directors that met in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday.
Industry and Trade Minister Innocent Bashungwa said the trade hub will unlock immense market potentials for agriculture products to be traded through the Tanzania Mercantile Exchange (TMX), thus boosting farmers' earnings.
TMX is Tanzania's organised commodity exchange, providing a platform where buyers and sellers come together to trade transparently, assured of quality, quantity, payment and delivery of the products.
"Establishment of the trade hub is a big step in transforming agriculture sector and its contribution to the farmers' earnings and to the Gross Domestic Product," the Minister said, adding that the trade centre will provide important platform for accessing regional and international markets.
He said through the project, the country is establishing its Tea and Trade Logistic Centre comprising of tea collection centre, warehouses and tea processing facilities.
Under this arrangement, traders will no longer use the Mombasa auction with high transport and warehouse logistic costs.
Trading through the Mombasa Tea Auction meant that Tanzania tea farmers and the ports have been in the losing side in terms of revenues generated.
Agriculture employs about 70 per cent of the country's active labour force and contributes around 26 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.
Bashungwa said the special committee will present the comprehensive project analysis of the Kurasini Trade and Logistic Centre on the next EPZA Board meeting on February next year.
This report will, among other issues, provide the roadmap on the project implementation.
The EPZA management has been directed to start immediately making preparations for the implementation of the project intended to incorporate agriculture and industrial sectors in order to boost their contribution to the economy.
Through the trade hub, traders will get detailed information on various agriculture products in the market, including quality and quantity to meet their orders.
The government continues to encourage farmers to increase productivity in order to address the supply constraints.
EPZA Director General Joseph Simbakalia said his organisation will immediately start implementing the Board's directives by meeting all stakeholders in the agriculture sector -- particularly those dealing with horticulture.
"We'll start meeting all stakeholders from today (Wednesday) to get their views and requirements in implementing the project," he explained.
He said the government has already paid 101bn/- compensation to Kurasini residents for the implementation of the project on the 61.87 acres of land. He said the EPZA will prepare concept note on the project, design the buildings as well as put in place road, water and electricity infrastructures.
The authority plans to construct one stop service centre that will bring together various regulators namely Tanzania Bureau of Standards, Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA), Atomic Energy Agency, Agriculture ministry and Tanzania Shipping Agency Corporation (TASAC), Simbakalia said.
Furthermore, EPZA in collaboration with other stakeholders is set to construct warehouses of international standards and agro processing industries for export of goods.
When it is completed, the trade hub will provide a one-stop centre for investors' facilitations, warehouses of international standards and the availability of high tech equipment.