Why Tanzania’s horticulture is an example to emulate

14Oct 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Why Tanzania’s horticulture is an example to emulate

THE Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) recently held a meeting in Arusha attended by over two hundred national and international delegates. 


The meeting was both a working session in which representatives of different parts of the industry described upcoming hurdles and an exercise in positive thinking and growth to overcome those hurdles.

Press reports quote Jacqueline Mkindi, the CEO of TAHA, as seeing horticulture surpassing tourism in terms of gross turnover in the coming years.  

That’s a discussion dealing in billions of dollars. It’s also a discussion touching on commercial farming, small growers and the government. 

True Tanzania is something of a Garden of Eden where you can find a place to literally grow anything and grow it well.  But the problems of expanding a subsector like horticulture aren’t really about climate and soil; they’re about people and institutions. And in those terms TAHA has a lot to teach us.

The opportunity to move the horticulture sector into the billion-dollar bracket comes from the right institutions, bringing together the right people pointed in the right direction. 

For horticulture that process started some fifteen years ago when TAHA was founded. 

The interesting thing about TAHA and the wave of Horticultural growth it has encouraged is its participatory and inclusive character. It represents the private sector but it’s not a forum of competitiveness and competition. 

TAHA’s currency is the common ground. An agenda whose common denominator includes a millionaire rose farmer and a girl on a bike taking five kilos of freshly harvested carrots from the family plot to the local market.

At first glance that must seem a stretch, but it’s not. It’s just getting the perspective right and then following through with an ever-increasing inclusiveness. 

That’s an institutional strategy very appropriate for an “association” and very effective if you can get it right because every time you approach a new challenge parties see you as a possible ally and not a competitor. 

In TAHA’s case it started more than a decade and a half now with East Africa’s entry into the flower trade. Tanzania flower growers contacted Tanzania vegetable growers with a proposal to combine their energy and establish a common association, TAHA.

The next step which really established this agenda was TAHA’s decision to represent big growers and small growers. By focusing on growers common needs rather than the specifics of what differentiated them TAHA established itself as hugely more broad minded and comprehensive.

The third leg of the platform was when TAHA joined the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and fitted itself into Tanzania’s formal structure for a relationship between the Public and Private Sector.

In the same way bringing together flowers and vegetable and big growers and small growers strengthened TAHA in the field joining TPSF helped them in the capital as an inclusive progressive entity working for the common good. 

Godfrey Simbeye, CEO of TPSF, spoke at the conference in Arusha, thanking Jackie Mkindi, CEO, for guiding the organization to horticulture’s impressive growth. It’s a success story, saying it was just what TPSF was trying to instill across the whole of the private sector.