ARUSHA: A NEW chapter has unfolded in northern Tanzania as thousands of local farmers proudly hold aloft their hard- earned international standards certifications, marking a momentous shift towards safer, sustainable and rewarding farming.
To be precise, four groups of horticultural farmers with nearly 1,000 members in Arusha and Kilimanjaro regions have secured GlobalG.A.P. certificates, a significant breakthrough for the smallholder farmers exporting their crops to international markets.
GlobalG.A.P. is an inter- nationally recognised set of farm standards dedicated to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) developed by European countries to ensure food safety, safe farming practices, workers and animal welfare, as well as facilitating export trade internationally.
The Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner, Mr Nurdin Babu, handed over the GlobalG.A.P. certificates to Shamkeri growers and Umoja Arusha from Arusha region and Mamba Miamba ginger growers cooperative and Umoja Kilimanjaro from Kilimanjaro Region in Moshi Municipality recently.
Mr Babu thanked TAHA and the Food and Forestry Development Finland (FFD Finland) for facilitating the ideal accreditation, saying it would go a long way in unlocking a treasure trove of opportunities for the dedicated horticultural farmers.
Their doors to lucrative global markets with discerning buyers eagerly waiting for their high-quality, responsibly farmed produce now swing open.
With the certifications, French beans, peas, bitter gourd, chilis, ginger, avocado, and capsicum growers from Arusha and Kiliman- jaro regions are no longer restrained by geographic boundaries.
They can now tap into premium prices and reliable demand across the world. Ezekiel Ndika, a ginger farmer from Same District in Kilimanjaro Region, expressed his earnest hope that the GlobalG.A.P. certification would unlock lucrative markets for their crop.
“It’s like a miracle. We are extremely happy for the feat. We are now sure that our horticultural crops will be competitive in the world market. Thank you TAHA and FFD-Finland for your generous support,” chipped in Prisca Kimaro, a farmer from Arusha Region.
“Serving as a testament to their unwavering dedication and transformative power of sustainable practices, the globally trusted emblem makes them stand out among the market crowd,” said the TAHA Food Safety and Standards Coordinator, Mr Zacharia Kiputa.
Their unwavering focus on safety does not only as- sure their consumers worldwide of their health and wellbeing, noted Mr Kiputa, adding, but also paves the way for long-term trust and loyalty.
“Their commitment to excellence shines through in every step, from meticulous handling of their crops to stringent storage and transportation protocols they adhere to,” he explained.
The accredited local farmers are not alone in this journey.
TAHA, a pioneer in Tanzania’s horticultural excellence, is beside them, etching a symbol of quality and excellence into their produce.
Through Quality Standards for Enhanced Market Access for Small Holder Farmers in Tanzania (SEMA) project, TAHA equips the farmers with preparedness in complying with and meeting international market requirements on food safety and standards.
Since 2012, TAHA has been collaborating with FFD in different interventions in supporting small- holder farmers and the Tan- zania horticultural industry at large, according to Mr Kiputa, who doubles as SEMA coordinator.
The Executive Associate to TAHA CEO, Mr Simon Mlay, said that their collabo- ration aimed at improving, increasing, and diversifying production, reducing post-harvest loss, and building market linkages in a holis- tic development of the local horticultural value chain.
“The ongoing SEMA (2021 – 2024) project has continued enhancing TAHA’s capacity to deliver different services and support the horticulture industry in the country,” he noted.
It is understood that SEMA has strengthened TAHA’s Agronomists’ capacities in quality standards, including GLOBALG.A.P., which is widely applied in international horticultural trade.
“Through SEMA, TAHA has 15 Agronomists licensed on GLOBALG.A.P. standards, and they recognized as registered trainers, formerly Farmer Assurers, and five auditors in its portfolio,” Mr. Mlay explained.
The goal is to build a crit- ical mass of GLOBALG.A.P. standards experts and audi- tors, enhance export market compliance, raise food safety awareness, promote sustain- able farming practices, and reduce certification costs for farmers, producers, off- takers, and exporters in East Africa.
\He said that through the project, TAHA estab- lished the Tanzania National Technical Working Group (NTWG) tasked to adopt universal standards into a local scale or context by developing guidelines dubbed National Interpreta- tion Guidelines (NIG) for the GLOBALG.A.P. standards.
It is worth noting that through this project, more than 3,500 farmers, 41 percent being female, and 35 percent youth, were trained in GLOBALG.A.P. stan- dards, Mr. Mlay explained.
Of the trained farmers, about 1,200 received Global G.A.P. certificates for various export value chains to the EU and US markets in the project areas of Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Njombe, and Unguja in Zanzibar.