About 14 horticultural entities folded up business in Arusha Region, with nine establishments that were producing fresh cut flowers and five firms growing vegetables, with packaging and exporting.
Dr Jacqueline Mkindi, executive director of the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) said in a statement delivered to an industry stakeholder meeting here at the weekend, the apex private sector institution that oversees horticultural activities and firms countrywide.
“With horticultural firms closing business, the government not only loses revenues, but people are also being laid out of work, while on the other hand, the local firms’ absence creates a gaping hole which compels the country to import flowers instead of exporting them,” she asserted.
Dr Mkindi was tabling the industry report to the Arusha Horticultural Producers’ Forum chaired by Regional Commissioner John Mongela, aimed at reviving the ailing sector and ensuring that the country forges ahead in fruits, flowers, spices and vegetable production and exports.
“Tanzanians still need flowers to mark various occasions, including weddings, funerals and official ceremonies. In the past these used to be procured locally but nowadays, we are forced to buy them from neighbouring countries, ,” the TAHA executive underlined.
Citing the example of Kiliflora, a horticultural firm which used to employ over 1500 people but closed down operations and sent many people home without sources of earnings, she said it was high time the government thought of working with the private sector to reclaim the lost glory.
RC Mongela who earlier visited six flower firms, saw to his horror what they were experiencing, like abandoned greenhouses, closed offices and rusting pieces of machinery after the investors packed their bags in recent years.
“I have seen the situation and will take all recommendations from the stakeholders to start working in restoring this important sector,” he declared.
Tanzania is currently earning $8m per annum from horticulture, while its next door neighbour rakes in a whopping $3bn from the industry, even with the Covid-19 pandemic taking its toll on the industry.
Various stakeholders said that other than the emerging pandemic, the operating environment in Tanzania had also been less conducive, thus prompting many of the investors to seek greener pastures elsewhere.