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"Better chance to enter Tanzanian market"

Potato Centre of Excellence opened during Tanzania Agribusiness Day

A Dutch-Tanzanian Potato Centre of Excellence, was launched at the 'Tanzania Agribusiness day'. This event was held on Wednesday, 31 May, and centred primarily around potatoes. Other sectors, including fruit cultivation, were, however, also discussed. The Tanzania Agribusiness day was organised by the Dutch Enterprise Agency, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC).

Source: Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC)

The Center for Development of the Potato Industry in Tanzania was launched that morning. It is a project in which the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Dutch business owners in the potato sector will jointly set up the Centre of Excellence in Tanzania. The Dutch government has invested almost EUR 4 million in the centre. In addition, nine businesses co-financed it and will give of their expertise. "This is a perfect example of the new Aid and Trade policy", says Professor Frank Wijnands. He, together with Ingrid Korving from the Ministry of Economic Affairs are the driving force behind the centre. He is now also the project leader.

One after the other, the nine representatives of the businesses signed a board, marking the official launch of the Potato Centre. "This is a win-win situation", says Wijnands. "By supporting the centre, they get a better chance of entering the Tanzanian market. At the same time, the centre will stimulate the value chain of potatoes in Tanzania. This will be done by introducing new techniques and seedlings at a demo-farm. Tanzanian potato farmers will be able to increase their harvests quickly. This, in turn will give the rural areas an economic boost."

Jan Willem Sepers of Europlant was one of the signatories. He does, indeed, see a sales market in Tanzania. "Our company can, for example, supply 125 different kinds of potato seedlings. At the moment they are only using two varieties. When the chain develops further there, the demand for other varieties will increase.

Remko Kruithof from Hanse Staalbouw, adds: "Tanzania has two yearly harvests, and then the markets gets flooded with potatoes, which means low prices. We recently developed refrigerated storage rooms for potato farmers in Kenya. These can be also be used in Tanzania. This enables you to store harvested potatoes for far longer and then sell them when prices go up."

Opportunities in fruits and vegetables 
Besides potatoes, there are many more opportunities in the East-African countries, says Bert Rikken, outgoing agricultural councillor at the Dutch Embassy in Kenya. "We mapped what was being produced and who the partners were. I sincerely hope we can attract enough interested parties to the southern highlands of Tanzania in order to further develop the area."

Centre hoped to have an impact "this year already"
The Tanzanian Ministry of Agriculture's delegation was led by Mathew Mtigumwe. He is the Permanent Secretary, which makes him the highest ranking non-elected employee. When asked how he would like to see the potato industry in his country over five years, Mtigumwe said, "Why only in five years? I am expecting an enormous boost in the potato industry within a year!" The Dutch are also enthusiastic about the centre. "We want to find the exact location, somewhere near the town of Mbeya, and get started", says Frank Wijnands.

Source: Agroberichten Buitenland

Publication date: 6/16/2017


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