On Monday, deputy minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said the agency will be known as ‘Horticulture Development Agency’ (HDA), and added that the process will be completed by February next year, and will aim to push up the horticulture farming mini-sector.
He said HDA which will deal with flowers, fruits and vegetable growing will assist in removing obstacles in the mini-sector and speed up its growth.
Bashe said during the process, the ministry had discussions with the mini-sector’s stakeholders led by their apex organisation – Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA).
He said the agency which will oversee the mini-sector is supposed to see that it contributes USD 1.85 to the GDP by 2021 – up from USD 764 million dollars currently, apart from providing employment for more youths and women.
He said giving priority to the horticulture mini-sector is a deliberate government’s decision since it is fast growing as compared with other cash crops such as cotton, cashew nuts, tobacco and others.
Statistics from the ministry of Agriculture show that the horticulture mini-sector grows at 11 percent whereas the growth rate for the entire agriculture sector is only four percent.
The deputy minister said the ministry of Agriculture is changing the laws that aim to merge regulatory authorities so as to reduce bureaucracy as well as to ease export procedures for agricultural products including reduction of levies imposed on horticulture growers.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Dotto James called on TAHA to prepare a list of bothersome taxes for submission to his ministry’s budget task force for solution—that may include their abolition.
James also called on TAHA to consider the possibility in hiring aircraft to transport horticultural products outside the country and that the government is ready to assist in the arrangement, whilst it also considering to purchase a special cargo plane.
The chairman of Agriculture and Livestock Parliamentary Committee Mahmoud Mgimwa said his panel will work closely with the ministry of Agriculture in the development of the horticulture mini-sector.
Earlier, presenting challenges and opportunities faced by the mini-sector, TAHA managing director Jacqueline Mkindi said a farmer who formalises his farming activities pays a total of 47 taxes and other levies every year, which is a great burden to the farmer and called on the government to improve the business environment, revise laws governing crops and ease the procurement of farm inputs for horticulture farming.
She also said there was need to improve the transport system for horticultural products at airports as well as sea ports so that they do not perish.
On the issue of training Mkindi appealed to the government to assist in establishing private horticultural colleges that would offer practical lessons thereon, to improve the curricula for teaching horticulture experts at Horti-Tengeru and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) as well as to simplify the issuance of work permits for foreign experts in the field.