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Govt to revive 16 closed horticulture plantations

Govt to revive 16 closed horticulture plantations

THE Government is planning to revive and start production in 16 horticulture plantations in the Arusha region that measure 1,950 acres.

The Minister for Agriculture, Professor Adolf Mkenda announced the decision in Arusha yesterday while on his tour of duty on the plantations after receiving requests from the apex private sector member-based organisation that advocates for the growth and competitiveness of the horticultural sector – TAHA.

The plantations were abandoned by investors for different reasons, one of them being unpaid loans.

The decision comes as the sixth phase government is in top gear to resuscitate the agricultural sector, one of the backbones of the country’s economy.

The prices of horticultural products, especially vegetables and flowers have been appreciating day in day out abroad, with Tanzania beefing up efforts to promote horticulture production.

Professor Mkenda said the government would put a proper procedure so that production in the plantations that were closed in 2018 are brought back into production after a huge loss that resulted from the land being left idle, that otherwise would have produced billions of shillings to individuals and taxes to the Government.

“We will revive them without interfering in the loans issues between the former investors and banks.

We cannot afford to see them idle anymore because the loss we have incurred is more than enough,” said Professor Mkenda.

During the tour, he saw some plantations with every needed infrastructure and heard that some investors left the country due to unfriendly production and business environment.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan has, since taking over the reins in March this year, promised to restore trust in investors and create a conducive environment for business.

Closure of the plantations has led to loss of about 6,000 jobs and taxes to the Government, as have been left with weeds all over for about four years now.

Arusha was once famous in the world for production of exported flowers, but the investors wound up the business one after another.

Merges did not work either, but with the new thrust and incentives put by the Government in the horticulture sub-sector, the revival is imminent.

TAHA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Jacqueline Mkindi told the minister that closed are 10 flower plantations and six that were producing vegetables.

She said that investors were advanced with loans, but as the flower business became unstable they failed to repay while for the case of vegetables, the business environment forced them out.

Ms Mkindi said that the government has been losing more than 24m US dollars yearly, something she said should push the government to repossess the plantations and pass over to other investors who are ready and willing to start production and business.

Speaking about horticultural products being exported through Kenya, Minister Mkenda was content with the move for now, saying there are things that should be fixed in terms of production volumes and logistics in Tanzania, before the country starts fully exporting directly to Europe and other countries from its own ports.

He said that producers should be left to sell their crops anywhere because it is business per se now, and they need income to run their lives and plough back in the production business.

He asked TAHA to work with tomato growers so that there is a proper market plan to avoid post-harvest loss that is now typical annually.

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