WE should develop horticultural sector to open more opportunities

20May 2020
The Guardian
WE should develop horticultural sector to open more opportunities

Horticulture has been defined as the agriculture of plants, mainly for food, materials, comfort and beauty for decoration. According to American horticulturist Liberty Hyde Bailey, Horticulture is the growing of flowers, fruits and vegetables, and of plants for ornament and fancy. 

A more precise definition can be given  the cultivation, processing, and sale of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and ornamental plants as well as many additional services. It also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration and soil management.

Govt is  set  out to revive, directly export horticultural produce.A strategy to revive the country’s horticultural industry with direct export of flowers, fruits and spices produced in the country will soon be unveiled.

It seeks to change the current situation whereby most horticultural produce from Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions is sent abroad via Kenya and counted as belonging to the neighbouring country.

 Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga said recently that in the strategy, the government will review various levies to attract cargo services of international airlines to land at the Kilimanjaro International Airport, the Julius Nyerere International Airport, along with Songwe and Mwanza airports.

Hasunga spoke when he joined up with various private institutions to view products of the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) at KIA, the second horticultural consignment destined for European markets.

“There is a long time problem faced by Tanzania’s business people especially producers of horticultural products in the export of their products through Kenya. It is a problem that is now being eased after TAHA chartered a cargo plane to airlift the products,” he said.

“The harm was that some of our products were treated as originating in Kenya, while they originate in Tanzania. Therefore we have made these efforts to ensure we have a plane that flies direct, pick the products and directly fly back to Europe.

“This is the first time we are directly accessing the European market. An Ethiopian Airways plane will be coming at least three times per week to airlift our products to Europe. This is a great opportunity for a country like ours, as this long time challenge is being solved.”

Hasunga said these achievements are a result of great efforts by TAHA in collaboration with the ministry and other stakeholders.

The ministry continues discussions with Emirates Airlines to also chip in airlifting horticultural products to Arab countries, he further noted.

“The third issue…. ..as you all know, in the past our country used to produce flowers in abundance as well as fruits, and we had big firms that were engaged in the cultivation thereof especially in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions. Many of them were faced with huge foreign debts and hence they had to close business,” he said.

Due to the problem, the government has decided to take deliberate steps to ensure all those firms should come back and continue with what they have been doing, he stated.

 The fourth issue that will be worked upon by the government is to review levies that were seen as a hindrance to the growth of the horticultural sector.

“Trade is competition, airlines compete with each other and stakeholders do that as well. When Kenya heard that we have acquired a plane, they started reviewing some of the issues, hence we as government we will also review various levies as outlined by TAHA so that our products and our airports become more attractive to foreign dealers,” he specified.

The fifth issue is to develop the horticultural sector to open more opportunities for farmers, youth, women and elders to invest in commercial horticulture as the country now has a reliable market for the produce.

Earlier, TAHA Executive Officer Dr Jacqueline Mkindi presented their recommendations and asked for 50 percent relief in planes’ landing charges especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government must also increase the period of permits for cargo planes to three months instead of issuing a landing permit every time the plane lands at the airport, she added.

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