TAHA, the advocate for the horticultural industry in Tanzania, has strongly criticised dishonest traders who harvest and sell immature avocados.
In a statement, TAHA warns that this practice not only risks damaging Tanzania’s reputation in the regional and international markets but also undermines the government’s efforts to promote agricultural growth.
TAHA commends the Ministry of Agriculture, specifically the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticides Authority (TPHPA), for seizing 32 tonnes of unripe avocados worth over 494m/- at the Namanga border post.
The avocados were being smuggled into Tanzania from Kenya.
The seizure of these premature fruits demonstrates the Tanzanian government’s commitment to ensuring the quality of imported and exported agricultural products.
TAHA CEO Dr Jacqueline Mkindi stated in the statement, “Protecting the quality of agricultural crops contributes to increased production, attracts investors, ensures food security, and boosts the incomes of smallholder farmers and the nation as a whole.”
The trade of immature crops distorts the value and hard work of agricultural producers and exporters and weakens efforts to attract investment into the sector.
TAHA believes it is time for Tanzanian and Kenyan plant health authorities to meet and develop an effective system for detecting this malpractice.
Firms caught harvesting and selling premature avocados, as well as other produce, should face legal consequences for threatening food security and the economic prosperity of both countries.
TAHA stresses that governments should consider revoking the licenses of those convicted of this practice.
“We also advise the private sector, especially farmers and exporters, to ensure they meet national and international standards and adhere to laws and regulations when accessing regional and international markets,” adds the TAHA Chief in the statement.
Dr Mkindi advises industry players to consult TAHA and the Ministry of Agriculture for authoritative information on avocado production, harvesting, and trading procedures.
TAHA pledges to collaborate with the government and relevant authorities to ensure the horticultural industry grows and benefits smallholder farmers, as well as contributes to the economies of both countries.
“TAHA remains committed to working closely with the TPHPA and our counterparts in Kenya to eradicate malpractices, including preventing the entry of immature avocados into regional and international markets,” says Dr Mkindi.
Unlike Mexico, Colombia, Peru, and other major global producers, Tanzania has the advantage of producing avocados twice a year.
The crop, which has the fastest-growing value chain in Tanzania’s horticultural industry and significant potential for overseas markets, is harvested between May and September, as well as between December and February.
Mexico harvests avocados between September and December, Colombia between September and February, and Peru between May and August.
Tanzania also benefits from relying on rainfall for about 80 per cent of its avocado production, while Mexico and other competitors produce avocados at the expense of the environment and other costs.