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Tanzania: Local fruit processing good for producers, economy

The inauguration yesterday of a fruit processing factory at Kingolwira in Morogoro Region by President Jakaya Kikwete is good news indeed. It is a very welcome move as it would stimulate production, contribute to the national economy and reduce poverty.

The move is also a step forward in the country’s desire to achieve local processing of its various products prior to exportation. Like the much publicized Ceres District in South Africa, famous for its ‘succulent fruits’ as ads go, various regions in Tanzania are endowed with ample land suitable for the cultivation of all sorts of fruits.

Morogoro, Tanga, Iringa, Mbeya, Coast and Dodoma regions and Zanzibar are most renowned for their fruit production for a period spanning several centuries. But all other regions also command a share of the cake. Such succulent fruits as apples, pears, tangerines, guavas, red plums, water melons, pineapples, grapes, jackfruit, banana, mangos, papaya, lichens and all sorts of berries are grown abundantly in the country.

Yet it has been a pity to see most of the fruits left to rot in the farms or in the storage facilities for lack of market mainly caused by the poor transportation infrastructure and lack of local processing facilities. The result of all this has been, strange enough, aggravation of poverty amidst such abundance. Take the example of Muheza District in Tanga Region, known for its booming orange and tangerine cultivation.

Lack of local fruit processing factories has caused a large portion of the harvest to rot, which is a setback to the efforts of the producers. There are reports of plans to build a fruit processing plant in the area. But there are also not-so-good reports of agents from neighbouring countries who set camp in the district during orange harvest seasons.

They then buy the crop at lower prices from the farmers before exporting them to their countries for processing. The processed products are then marketed and exported as a product of that country! It is high time Tanzania’s fruit producers fully benefitted from their effort.

They must get fair returns for their hard work. Such goals will only be achieved if more local fruit processing plants would be established in the major production areas. It also would not be a bad idea if fruit farmers will form cooperatives through which they could market and sell their produce more profitably rather than depending on agents and middlemen who want to profiteer at the expense of the producers.


Publication date: 12/8/2008


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