TAHA outreaching important for using facilities like AGOA

The Guardian
Published at 06:00 AM Jul 04 2024
Photo: File

GOOD times are beckoning for both Tanga Region courtesy of its spices and herbs and the country at large, as horticulture is undeniably not just gearing for a bright future but some of it is already visible.

A number of export agreements in Asian markets have in a sense added to existing multilateral trade arrangement, with the European Union (everything but arms) and the United States – the latter in its Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which for years we used only to a scratch of potential. We are on the rise now.

While the public is used to hearing of our country’s northern horticultural belt, which sorts of blends with the tourism circuit, outreach activities are brisk.

It was initially in the southern highlands but it has since extended to other spots – for instance, in an accord reached between the Tanga City Council and the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA).

A memorandum of understanding signed recently has airs of a transformative moment for the regional spices and herbs industry, depending on their agro-technical capacity and market size outside.

Judging by earlier reports, especially in past years, Tanzania was using a scant portion of its export quota or potential in zero-tax arrangements, as all that is sanitary checks for quality of produce.

Within a few years, the horticultural business organisation has developed a vast networking capacity, probably as doors tend to be opened for its efforts in comparison with traditional crops and the humdrum of export crops that don’t have a spectacular element to them.

Flowers were the original stock in trade for horticultural networking, followed by delicate exports like green beans and avocadoes, while now less perishable output like spices and herbs are joining the fray.

As AGOA has 350 specific types of products that can be exported without customs charges, the sky is really the limit.

Still reaching these markets is not a walk in the park, as our traditional farming methods don’t accommodate standards facilitating so many crops to find markets beyond the next town or city open markets.

The MoU tasks the city council with facilitating TAHA support for farmers and other stakeholders in the regional horticultural value chains, like enhancing the production, processing and marketing of such crops.

The networking-cum-business group also provides a platform for value addition, knowledge facilitation on the latest horticultural technologies and practices, connecting them to domestic, regional and international markets. It is a full package of innovations in all those spheres, definitely.

Good practices will be disseminated from a one-stop shop to be built, as a horticultural common use facility, where the city authorities will allocate five acres of land in an upcoming industrial area.

Even more convincing is a projected 100-acre commercial model farm, with the designated area feasible for future expansion of the project.

There is something in this outreach exercise that approaches scale, needed for real take off of an industry in a competitive manner.

There is plenty of goodwill on the part of administrators at the city council, but a lot will depend on how far each stage of that wide ranging plan is executed according to plan, so that there is no discouragement on either participating side.

That is what observers are hoping for, especially as TAHA isn’t just an association but a viable and increasingly experienced business group with excellent international connections and goodwill among a wide range of stakeholders.

Its ability to work both as an NGO and as a business group creates inward synergies that many firms or NGOs lack. We wish them all the best.