Governments of Tanzania and Kenya

Dar es Salaam - Nairobi truce saved horticulture from ruin

The governments in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi have agreed that cargos and conveyors should be offloaded at destination unless there's a special agreement with cargo owners. In a communiqué, Tanzania and Kenya announced an agreement on the fact that vehicles should not be compelled to offload at the border as part of a wider deal to end the recent border crossing dispute over coronavirus testing between the two countries.

Leading horticulture industry's body Taha has applauded the recent truce between Tanzania and Kenya, claiming that the governmental cooperation has saved the multi-million dollar agricultural sub-sector and thousands of related jobs.

Latest data from the Agriculture ministry shows that horticultural export value had surged to S779 million in the 2018/19 financial year, up from 8412 million in 2014/15 becoming the growth driver of the entire agricultural sector, contributing to overall agrarian exports standing at 38 per cent annually.

"We are very grateful to our two governments for amicably resolving the trade dispute occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic to allow a seamless cross-border movement of goods" said the Taha Group chief executive officer, Ms Jacquiline Mkindi, who represented Tanzania's private sector at last week's ministerial bilateral talks at Namanga border.

Ms Mkindi said the border wrangle had put Tanzania's multi-million dollars horticulture industry at a crossfire, as the lion's share of horticultural crops is exported through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKL4) and Mombasa port in Kenya.

"Had the cold war continued, horticulture would be the first to be affected, as we heavily rely on JKLA and Mombasa port as the main export outlets of our perishable crops to overseas markets," she said. "The Dar/Nairobi truce leaves everyone the winner. It keeps the shelves of Kenya's supermarkets stocked with our fruits, brings foreign currency to our economy, saves Tanzanian jobs and sustains farmers and investors."

The two governments, she told, should ensure that cargo trucks cross the borders smoothly and efficiently, calling for measures including the removal of any sorts of cargo restrictions and operating curfews to allow cross border trade grow.

"We shouldn't allow cargo trucks filled with life-saving horticultural foods to be delayed due to cumbersome and bureaucratic procedures to cross to either side of the border just for Covld-19 testing. Not in our times, not into our region," Mkindi stressed.

"Keeping a truck laden with vegetables, fruits or flowers at a border crossing for a day or two destroys perishable crops", Ms Mkindi said.

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