Taha chief basks in JPM promise to create horticulture billionaires

17Nov 2020
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Taha chief basks in JPM promise to create horticulture billionaires

A promise to create a pull of new billionaires within the next five years of President John Pombe Magufuli’s second five year term, has excited Tanzania Horticulture Association (Taha) Group CEO, Jacqueline Mkindi.

Taha Group CEO, Dr Jacqueline Mkindi speaks at a past event.

Commenting on Dr Magufuli’s inaugural address of the 12 edition of parliament last week during which he pledged to put in place policy that will favour local investors, Mkindi said the president’s speech has rekindled hope in the industry.

President Magufuli who also pledged that his government will purchase a new cargo plane to facilitate shipment of the country’s exports to the global market, directly touched on a teething challenge which Taha members have complained about for years.

The head of state vowed to facilitate growth of the horticultural industry which currently earns the country U$779 million per annum to hit U$3 billion in the next five years. “My government wants the country’s horticulture industry to be among the world’s largest 20 producers in the next five years,” he pledged.

Reacting to the president’s speech, Taha’s Mkindi welcomed Dr  Magufuli’s blue print speech, terming it as a ‘Renaissance’ of horticulture industry and immediately offered a package of steps to unleash its enormous potential to realize the U$3 billion mark by 2025.

 “This is a new dawn for horticulture, thanks to President Magufuli for putting the industry on top of his agenda. For the first time the Head of the State has recognized the industry as the key economic driving force and pledged to unleash its hidden potential,” the Taha Group CEO noted.

She said that horticulture has played a central role than any other sub-sectors in all countries that have successfully developed it hence being a key driver of growth of the entire agriculture sector, naming Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Ghana, among many others in Africa.

Mkindi said, in order to achieve such an ambitious feat, there is need to address several challenges in addition to forge a public private partnership. “Through the PPPs model, we can create synergies, share resources, and will be able to leverage our experiences to attain the desired goal,” the Taha Group CEO who doubles as Agricultural Council of Tanzania’s Chairperson, argued.

She further stated that the government ought to put in place a structure to realize five key drivers of horticulture or agriculture transformation, namely; market access, enhanced productivity, an enabling environment that supports innovation, capital access or financial services and skills development.

Mkindi underlined the need for vibrant infrastructure network which include collection centres and cargo trucks to ease post-harvest losses, competitive airports and seaports furnished with a cold chain management system to support handling of perishables like horticultural crops to facilitate shipment to the global market.

She also highlighted the need to have availability and accessibility of hybrid seeds, cost-efficiency inputs, cutting-edge irrigation technology and guaranteed good agricultural practices to comply with global standards, as among few factors to improve productivity.

“Through PPP we should come-up with a package of incentives to encourage local and foreign direct investments in a bid to spur the industry’s rapid growth during the next five years,” the charismatic Taha chief who is credited with sustained growth of the country’s industry stressed.

Under Mkindi leadership, the horticulture industry has slowly but sustainably developed to become the country’s major foreign currency earner. With a humble beginning nearly 16-years ago, the industry is growing rapidly from earning the country less than U$100 million then to over U$770 million per annum currently.

Statistics from Ministry of Agriculture entails that the vibrant industry has been growing at 11 percent annually, offering a glimpse of hope to the stagnant agriculture sector with a growth rate of only four percent per annum.

The ministry’s date also shows that horticulture production has become the second largest growth driver of the entire agriculture industry after food crops, contributing nearly 25 percent of the country’s total agrarian production in 2018/19 season.