THE government has expressed its commitment to supporting horticultural farming which employs more than 2.4 million people to date, most of them women.

In the meantime, the government is also looking for reliable export markets for the fast growing industry, the Deputy Minister for Industries, Trade and Investment, Eng Stella Manyanya told Parliament here yesterday.

She made the remarks when responding to the main question from Dr Christine Ishengoma (Special Seats-CCM) on how prepared the government was in supporting horticultural farmers with reliable markets for their farm produce.

The deputy minister said the horticulture was currently employing many people, and that the government was aware of market challenges and capital, with a view to helping farmers operate commercially.

She said the government and the Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) had since conducted best farming practice training to farmers in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro, Iringa, Njombe, Mbeya and Zanzibar. Ms Manyanya said the training sessions were aimed at ensuring that the farmers observed best practices so that their produce could meet both local and foreign market demands.

“We will conduct more training to the remaining regions to impart the farmers with the best horticulture knowledge and skills … because we believe that the markets are available, only that they should meet the quality standards,” Ms Manyanya said.

To keep the farmers well informed of available markets, the Tanzania and Swiss governments were running a programme to promote horticultural markets. “Under the programme, the farmers and consumers are getting the information on prices, availability of the produce and buyer linkages through mobile phones … tourism hotels are our main target,” she told the House.

The deputy minister said the two governments had also engaged the private sector and encouraged them to set up fruit and vegetable processing factories, both small and medium plants.

The move had since paid dividends following establishment of a number of industries such as Bakhresa Food Products in Mkuranga, Sayona Fruits in Bagamoyo, Dabaga in Iringa, Sayona Fruits in Mwanza, Elven Agri-Company in Bagamoyo and Iringa Vegetables Oil and Related Industry Ltd.

She expressed was optimism that these industries would resolve long-term market challenges and encourage the farmers to cultivate more, knowing that there was a ‘ready-made’ market. On capital, she called upon the district and municipal councils to issue the designated 10 per cent of their budgets to supporting the women and youth groups engaging in horticulture business.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and Disabled), Ms Jenista Mhagama seized the hour to express the government’s commitment to supporting the youths -- especially with capacity building training programmes.

She cited efforts by graduates from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) specialising in green house farming and now serving as trainers in the field countrywide.