HORTICULTURE can help turnaround the country’s economy, if robust and proactive measures are taken to unlock its enormous potential, an expert said in Dodoma.
Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) Chief Manager for Development, Mr Anthony Chamanga told Members of Parliament that horticulture was a sleeping giant that could certainly transform the economy.
“Horticulture has the potential to create more employment, increase GDP, boost foreign currency earnings, supply industry with raw materials, increase the revenue base and guarantee self-sufficiency, among others,” Mr Chamanga told the MPs recently.
For instance, TAHA official says a single investment worth 4.5bn/- in avocado production alone with 2,000 farmers contracted as out growers, could yield 9.6bn/- profits in three years, rake in 20 million US dollars (some 45bn/-) and create 10,500 employment opportunities.
“Horticulture can therefore play a pivotal role in the realisation of the objectives of the Agricultural Sector Development Programme (Phase II) - ASDP II, which was recently launched by President John Pombe Magufuli,” Mr Chamanga said.
The five-year plan is one of the key instruments that the government depends on to meet Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025 and would be implemented until 2023 for a total investment of 3.8tri/-.
Mr Chamanga argued that for the horticulture to grow and contribute meaningfully to the economy as per ASDP II, the government needs to address key issues of multiple taxes and overregulation to make the sub-sector more competitive.
Available records indicate that horticulture growers are subjected to nearly 40 different taxes and regulated by 20 regulatory bodies, imposing a heavy cost on businesses in terms of time and money.
TAHA official told the MPs that the contentious issue is not only how to pay myriad taxes and make profits necessary for expansion, but also the modality and time spent in complying with intricate taxes and regulatory bodies’ fees.
“To be precise the taxes and time spent in complying with regulatory bodies eat up to 20 per cent of gross turnover per annum” Mr Chamanga said.
Reacting to presentation, Ileje MP Janet Mbene commended TAHA for its struggle to unlock the potential of horticulture sub-sector to contribute into boosting the country’s economy.
“I have realised that horticulture has a myriad potentials, but again to unleash its potential we need to address numerous challenges facing the subindustry,” Ms Mbene explained.
The Kigoma-Urban MP, Zito Kabwe underscored the importance of MPs to deliberate thoroughly on the agriculture in order to get the right solution in revamping the industry, billed as the backbone of the economy.
The horticultural industry in Tanzania is the fastest growing within the agricultural sector recording an annual average growth of 10 - 12 per cent over the last ten years.
The sub-sector’s export turnover hit 640 million US dollars in 2016, up from 546 million US dollars in 2015, according to data from Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).