Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Arusha set for agribusiness exhibition


By Zephania Ubwani, The Citizen Bureau Chief

Arusha. Preparations are underway for the first agribusiness expo in Tanzania planned to take place here at Selian Agricultural Research Centre on June 8 and 9.Themed ' Promoting Agribusiness for Economic Development Prosperity', the two-day agricultural fair is being  organised by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) in partnership with the Selian Agricultural Research Institute.
The event, according to David Tuhoye, Tanzanian director in the regional body, comes at a time the government is implementing Kilimo Kwanza, an initiative aimed to strengthen agricultural production to achieve high levels of production.
"It is also in line with the country's Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) for the sector, which targets increased production to feed the population and generate more revenues as income," he said in Arusha recently.
Speaking to journalists in the company of other EAGC officials at an Arusha hotel during formal launching of the Agribusiness Expo 2012, Mr Tuhoye said the fair would be the first of its kind to have taken place in Tanzania.

During the fair, stakeholders in the agricultural sector would be exposed to a wide range of innovative products and services in agribusiness, which includes marketing information services and technology.

Others are agribusiness financing and risk mitigation, post-harvest management systems, farm-to-market linkages, research and biotechnology, modern grain aggregation and marketing concepts through warehouse receipt systems and commodity exchange.

The council plans to make the expo an annual event that provides an opportunity to foster agricultural trade and serve as a forum for participants to learn new strategies to maximize returns from the market-led agricultural development.

Mr Tuhoye added that the expo would involve large and smallholder farmers from across the country and with exhibitors, prime among them, grain farmers who, the council serves.
"There will be exhibitors in the grain and staple foods sub-sector, agro-processors, seed suppliers, dairy and financial service providers, to mention but a few," he pointed out.
Mr Gerald Masila, the executive director of the Nairobi-based organisation, said similar expos have been very successful in other East African countries, and we aim to  make this a 'must go' event for the public and those in the agricultural sector."
For the Tanzanian case, the agribusiness expo has come at the right moment - at a time the government is implementing a raft of reforms in the farming sector so as to expose the country's potential in agribusiness.
He said the country was set to benefit from the event because he does not know of any country which has achieved a significant measure of socio-economic and structural transformation without first modernising its agriculture.
No country has also, according to him, significantly reduced poverty of its population without achieving a high level of productivity in agriculture.
"Therefore, Tanzania must also focus its agricultural sector to be the foundation of economic development and the prosperity of its people," said the EAGC chief executive officer.
Available statistics indicate that 80 per cent of Tanzanians depend on agriculture for their livelihood while 95 per cent of food consumed locally in every household is from the agricultural sector.
The sector remains the backbone of the country's economy because it contributes about 27 per cent of the Gross National Product (GDP), 30 per cent of total exports and 65 per cent of raw materials for local industries.
Bringing the stakeholders together to focus on the agribusiness issues will also add on to reducing Tanzania's level of inflation, since food contributes to 60 per cent of the inflation basket.
"The enhancement of agricultural market-led productivity is an important condition for increasing household food security and stimulating economic growth through increased investments in agriculture," he said.
In addition, market linkages and access in the agricultural sector is focusing on commercialisation of the sub-sector with the thrust being on structured trade and production in order to increase incomes.
"In turn this will contribute to global, regional and national policies that impact on food security, poverty reduction and economic growth," said Mr Masila.
During the round table meeting, the government was challenged to create a favourable policy environment that supports the agribusiness sector in order to increase investments in agriculture.
They said despite the diversification of activities in recent years, the agricultural sector would continue to remain the backbone of Tanzania's economy and the wellbeing of its people for many years to come.
According to Mr Masila, two other agribusiness shows would be organised within the region this year besides the Arusha fair.
These will take place in Lira, Uganda on June 21 and 22 and Nakuru, Kenya on August 2 and 3.
The Agribusiness Expo will be organised in partnership with the Selian Agricultural Research Institute (Sari) which has, since 1989, been designated as zonal headquarters for agriculture and livestock research in northern Tanzania.
However, the significance of the institute for the coming show is that its mandate now includes research on all major grain crops in the zone.

 These include mainly maize, wheat, barley, millet and sorghum in addition to drought-resistant legumes.
Bringing the stakeholders together to focus on the agribusiness issues will also add on to reducing Tanzania’s level of inflation, since food contributes to 55.9 per cent of the inflation basket, according to other stakeholders.

Attempts by the industry players both in the public and private sectors to enhance the sector’s productivity have led to diverse market dynamics in support of producers, traders, processors and development of the sector.
In addition, market linkages and access in the agricultural sector is now focusing on commercialisation of the sub-sector with the thrust being on structured trade and production in order to increase incomes and contribution to global, regional and national policies that impact on food security and economic growth.

Tanzania News - The Citizen

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