Hoteliers, tour operators and business community have been urged to cultivate the habit of consuming locally grown food including vegetables in an effort to boost economy of people in Tanzania.
Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, LeonidasGama made the call in Marangu when speaking at the climax of vegetable growers’ exhibition held at Marangu Teachers’ Training College’s grounds.
The showcasing event was organized by Floresta Tanzania — a Christian and US-based non-profit organization, working to
reverse deforestation and ameliorate poverty in the area by transforming the lives of the rural poor. Its vision is that deforestation stems from a lack of economic options and that rural poverty stems from environmental degradation.
Under Floresta arrangement, farmers who are estimated to be more than 4000 are producing different kinds of vegetables, and some into modern cattle rearing and poultry production.
“Our farmers here produce a wide-range of agricultural produces, that meet local and international standards, hence I don’t see the reason as why tourist hotels and other business ventures to import food staff from abroad,” he said, calling firms working in the hospitality industry to inculcate a culture of promoting locally grown produces.
“By doing so, we’ll be promoting business at the grass-roots and in turn create more job opportunities for people who are solely depend on agriculture,” the RC said, in a speech which was read on his behalf by the Rombo District Commissioner, Peter Toima.
The regional chief noted that the move will also be in line with the public-private driven ‘Kilimo Kwanza initiative’ by ensuring market of agro-based products.
Specifically, Gama called upon Kilimanjaro-based hoteliers and tour operators to start buying and using the locally produced vegetable harvests as they are free from industrial fertilizer and chemicals.
“This will assure our farmers of reliable markets on what they produce. Through this spirit, we’ll be complementing government efforts to create employment for our people as well as scaling down poverty levels,” he says, hailing Floresta for organizing vegetable growers’ showcasing event.
He added: “This plays an important role in boosting vegetable production in this area as it gives farmers an opportunity to get a closer link with local buyers.”
“This is a very recommendable initiative that needs to be boosted. It is high time for consumers to start easting organic vegetables, because of its potentialities to users.”
Official from Floresta Tanzania, Richard Mhina said that for almost eight years, his organization has been working with more than 4000 farmers in three districts in Kilimanjaro region—Moshi Rural, Siha and Same.
“Here we are not giving farmers fish, but we train them on how to catch fish. Floresta enables communities to share their field experiences and methodological innovations to address issues of practical and immediate value and acts as the voice from the field.”
“Floresta utilizes an interactive approach to tackle issues of food security, environmental degradation, economic development, and poverty,” Mhina said.
He added: “Sometimes we’re connecting farmers with buyers abroad because we’re sure with what farmers produce. Our farmers are properly trained on better farming practices as well as producing crops that meets international standards and meet world markets.”
The official further noted that small-scale farmers are also trained on entrepreneurship skills, this makes them to extra miles looking for better and potential markets of their produces as most of them are in groups where they have formed their own Village Community Banking (VICOBA).
“And this year’s exhibitions for organic vegetable growers acts as an eye-opener to farmers as they can easily interact with buyers and consumers of what they produce,” he said.
Vegetable production in Tanzania has increased from 40,602 tones in 2001/02 to 92,250 in 2007/08 and export has increased from US$ 63,400 in 2001/02 to US$140,340 in 2007/08.
The sector has contributed to the increase of employment opportunities from 12,000 in 2006 to 20,019 in 2009.