Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Eng Isack Kamwele told the National Assembly in Dodoma yesterday that talks are ongoing with various stakeholders to initiate cargo flights for the produce.
He said: “We have been in talks for almost three months, we are about to initiate direct flight cargo for horticultural produce and fish. This will ensure Tanzanian products to easily reach markets”.
The minister informed the lawmakers that already similar services had been done for horticultural produce in northern zone regions through Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).
He explained that to begin, the government will hire a special aircraft purposely for export of fresh agricultural products in southern highland regions and fresh fish from Mwanza.
He however noted that the government will in future make decisions to purchase specific cargo plane to transport the farm produce.
Eng Kamwele made the explanation in response to a supplementary question from Rombo MP, Joseph Selasini who tasked the government to purchase a special cargo plane that will export the country’s farm produce including avocados.
Selasini also claimed that avocado farmers in Kilimanjaro region are struggling to access internal and external markets. He added that most avocado farmers are selling their products to Kenyan traders at the lowest prices.
“We could boost the income of farmers engaging in the horticultural sector by ensuring their produce are sold directly to markets abroad”, said the MP.
In his basic question, Rungwe MP, Saul Amon (CCM) was concerned with lack of coordinated markets for horticultural products especially avocados cultivated in southern highland regions.
The legislator wanted to know whether the government had plans to establish special avocado nurseries to enable farmers to get young avocado threes at cheapest prices since the young trees are now sold at more than 3,000/-.
Responding, Agriculture deputy minister, Hussein Bashe admitted that most of Tanzanian avocados are exported through brokers. He said talks are ongoing with the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) to facilitate exportation of the agricultural produce.
“We are finalising talks with TPA for establishment of a ‘green belt system’ that will ensure smooth exportation of our farm produce”, said Bashe adding establishment of a certified lab in January next year will also ensure reliable international markets.
He said the government is working with stakeholders to ensure sustainable avocado farming whereas it is now conducting mapping of all potential areas for avocado production so as to come up with the best variety.
Bashe said the government in collaboration with stakeholders and farmers have started to produce avocado trees whereby 233 avocado trees nurseries had been established in Rungwe district.
He said the nurseries have so far produced 345,473 young avocado trees whereas 265,473 trees were produced by small scale farmers and another 80,000 by private companies.