Unveiling the plans in Dodoma over the weekend, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Hussein Bashe said several reforms geared at eliminating bottlenecks frustrating rapid growth of the horticulture industry, will also be undertaken.
Bashe said the HAD’s main duty will be to oversee the rapid growth of the industry and increase annual earnings from the current U$764 million to U$1.85 billion by 2021 while creating jobs and wealth for youth and women in the process.
“Establishment of the Horticulture Development Agency, will completely change the business of horticulture in the country,” Bashe stated after meeting with a delegation of Tanzania Horticulture Association’s which attended a stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Ministry in the new capital.
The meeting was also attended by Treasury’s Permanent Secretary, Dotto James, members of Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water, Tanzania Investment Centre Tanzania Ports Authority, among others.
Bashe said currently, several laws and regulations are being amended to accommodate the new growth strategy of the industry towards a possible green revolution of the entire agriculture sector.
Some of the initiatives under the flagship plan include removal of export hurdles, review of regulatory barriers but also improve logistics and infrastructure hitches to ease importation of horticultural related inputs and technologies.
In addition, the government will also merge several regulatory agencies in a bid to ease bureaucracy and save time, a bottleneck which many stakeholders complained against for many years. The ministry will dedicate three laboratories for horticultural food testing to be certified by the Global Good Agriculture Practices to relieve exporters from testing their produces abroad.
Speaking at the same event, Treasury’s James advised TAHA to lease a cargo plane for horticulture exportation while promising all necessary support from the government.“Before we get our own cargo planes in place, I would advise TAHA to lease one while the government provides any needed support,” James promised. He also tasked TAHA to identify all nuisance taxes as well as levies and submits the list to the budget task force as soon as possible for action.
Formal horticultural growers are subjected to 47 different taxes, fees and levies as the industry is regulated by 20 different bodies which added production costs on the industry, TAHA Group CEO, Jacqueline Mkindi told the meeting.
Mkindi said in order to grow the industry rapidly, the government should identify, demarcate and protect land for horticulture businesses in the country while improving the entire business environment including reviewing of Plant Protection Act, fast-tracking registration of pesticides which frustrate private investors.
“As a country we need to establish special production zones for specific crops like seedless lime, mangoes and apples. These are the products that can give us huge volumes and competitive edge globally,” she explained.
On access to markets, the TAHA boss said the government need to identify and accredit laboratories locally to meet international standards, approve and enforce a code of conduct for horticulture and develop market support infrastructure.
On skills gaps, Mkindi suggested that the government should support and provide incentives to private horticultural training institutions, improve training curriculum and strengthen Horti-Tengeru and the Horticulture Department at Sokoine University of Agriculture.