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East Africa: Export opportunities available in Tanzania

Milama (a subsidiary of AIM listed Obtala company), a Tanzanian based agricultural company, is in the midst of an exciting expansion and development plan, focusing on putting Tanzania on the map as an agricultural hub, producing high quality produce for the local, regional and international markets.

With 1700 ha of available land, Milama already supplies the local markets with fresh fruit and vegetables and has recently started exporting to Kenya and Dubai. According to Chief Operating Officer Warren Deats, "We are currently expanding the farm to give us the capacity to supply the best varieties and appropriate volumes to local, regional and international markets. With a weekly direct vessel from Dar es Salaam to Dubai taking only 13 days we have a strong competitive advantage to be able to supply the Middle East with fresh produce which is often otherwise flown in from Australia or South America."

Tanzania has all the agricultural qualities of Kenya, lacking only a history and reputation in the global agricultural industry. It has a great workforce, skilled farmers, ideal climate as well as access to ports and good roads. Until now Tanzania has not been able to capitalize on these in the way Kenya has.

Deats added that the vast opportunities in Tanzania are apparent and their goal is to put the correct strategies into place to ensure Tanzania builds the same reputation as Kenya as a grower and producer of some of the best fresh produce in the world. This will also contribute to both food security and job creation in a meaningful way in Tanzania.

In shaping its strategy, Deats explains that Milama looked at what they could ship in 13 days that everyone else was flying, focusing on the products that could give Milama the highest yields whilst keeping an eye on what was being flown in from around the world.

Some of the products in this list include melons, pomegranates, cherry tomatoes and mangoes. Pomegranates, for instance, are in high demand in the Middle East, so the key is to find a partner in the Middle East, and then ensure that there is regular demand for regular high quality supply. "We only need Tanzania to be put on the map as a reputable supplier, and I believe the quality of our product speaks for itself; in fact, we’ve already had positive reviews from both East Africa and the Middle East," says Deats.

For her part, Sophie Hunter, head of Sales and Distribution, explains that for the time being, Milama will concentrate on conventional products, as organic and niche products are mostly demanded in Europe and their most important markets are the Middle East and Asia. "The first and most important thing for us is shipping the right variety for the Middle East; choosing the variety that is in demand there, and our farmers have plenty of experience in the cultivation, so I feel we will be able to produce a high quality export product."

Deats explains that another great advantage of the company are the company’s post-harvest facilities. Milama is the only one in their area able to access the export market with both fresh and dried products, as they do have a pack house as well as drying facility. It allows them to produce and market dried produce as an added value product.

Lastly, it is worth noting that the company keeps social issues in mind and focuses on being a good and fair employer in the area. "The core of the matter is that poverty and food security in Africa is one of the biggest issues the continent (if not the world) is facing, so the more produce we grow, the more people we employ. The better off the surrounding villages and people are."

He also added that the welfare of their workers is very important for them and it will remain just as important as their business grows. "Our goal is to be one of the leading producers of fresh produce in East Africa,” said Deats. Milama is Global G.A.P. and BRC certified, ensuring all international and good farming practices are maintained.

For more information:

Sophie Hunter
Tel: Tanzania: +255-756-779515
Hong Kong: +852-63306749
London: +44-20-7099-1940
Email: [email protected]