With Avocado, Tanzanian Growers See Potential to Combat Poverty

Avocado growers in Tanzania are seeing in this soft fruit a potential to combat poverty just as in South Africa, citrus export this year is confirming a sustained growth in the industry.

As South Africa’s 2021 citrus season is approaching the end, it has become clear that there was export growth, even during these challenging times for South African.

Apart from the COVID-19 situation, in July, the country experienced civil unrest expressed through looting and burning of small and big businesses. About 40 000 businesses, including shops, cargo trucks and warehouses, were affected.

Also in July, the country’s state owned company which controls ports and railway transport system, Transnet, experienced cyber-attacks leading to blocking of operations at its cold stores and freights.

Despite these huddles data already collected by the end of second quarter of 2021 shows that citrus industry’s exports are projected to reach up to 159 million cartons. This is 9% growth compared to 2020.

Leading citrus exporters assert that 40 – 45% of the cartons are destined for European market, while the remaining 55 – 60% is destined for Russian and East Asian markets.

This resilience and growth of the citrus industry is supported by good rains of 2020/2021 growing season, favorable international prices, improved farming practices and technologies and growing access to market, especially in the East Asia.

It is expected that the industry will grow by 500 000 tons over the next 3 to 5 years. In the midst of this growth, logistics to ensure that citrus can be exported timely and in good condition is still a challenge.

However, avocados thrive in many parts of Tanzania, and there might be a possibility of using it to free Tanzanians from abject poverty and improve their nutritional values.

Mbeya, Njombe, Songwe, Iringa, Tanga, Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Kigoma, Kagera, Katavi and Morogoro are popular regions for avocado production in the land.

According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics, 19,449 tons of avocados were produced in 2016/17. The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) says in its report that 5,551 tons of Tanzanian avocados worth $8.5 million were traded in Europe, Africa and Asia in 2018.

Different sources show that the value of avocado exports from Tanzania in 2019 had increased eight-fold compared to the value recorded in 2013. The trend strengthened Tanzania’s market share from 0.1 percent to 0.4 percent, with the International Trade Centre (ITC) commending the move.

Rungwe Avocado Limited and Africado Limited jointly produced a total of 5,000 tons with small scale farmers dishing a small part of it. Poor avocado production by Tanzanian farmers denies them prerequisite benefit from the fast-growing sub-sector.

A fruits researcher at the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari-Uyole) in Mbeya Region, Daud Mbongo, said the crop could be grown all over the country: “It is a crop that thrives in all regions of the country including the Coast and Dar es Salaam regions provided the water table isn’t close and its soil doesn’t allow water retention,” he told All Africa, a news portal.

“Kenya is second in avocado production in the continent behind South Africa, while Tanzania is third. However, most avocado exported by the neighbouring country are purchased from the Tanzanian market”, he said, adding, “some changes need to be made if Tanzania is to fully utilise its potential in the avocado business.”

 

 

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