The European Union-funded AGRI-CONNECT program in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture is organizing a two-day national avocado conference “Promoting the Competitiveness of the Avocado Industry in Tanzania”.
The conference started yesterday and is expected to end today in the Iringa region.
The conference brings together key stakeholders in the avocado value chain, including officials from relevant ministries and regulatory institutions, development partners, researchers, the private sector, as well as representatives from financial institutions, producers, processors and traders.
The AGRI-CONNECT program carried out a horticultural value chain analysis, which highlighted the challenges and opportunities of the avocado industry in the southern highlands regions.
More than 26,000 farmers are engaged in avocado cultivation, 38% of which are located in the southern highland regions. Njombe, Iringa, Mbeya, Songwe, Kilimanjaro, Kagera and Arusha are the main avocado-producing regions of the country, and the avocado industry is rapidly emerging in other regions.
Tanzania is one of Africa’s largest avocado producers. In 2019, Tanzania produced 40,000 tons of avocados and production is expected to increase by 20% per year.
About 65 percent of total avocado production was absorbed by the domestic market; 14% was consumed on the farm, of which 6% was waste; and only 21 percent was exported, mainly to the European market.
However, up to 20% post-harvest losses due to inefficient value chain operations have been reported.
The processing of avocado in the domestic market is minimal and therefore represents an untapped opportunity for the avocado value chain.
“Avocado is among the government’s priority crops given its environmental, health and economic benefits,” said Queen Sendiga, Iringa Regional Commissioner who represents Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe.
“Statistics show that avocado exports have increased significantly from 3,279 tons in 2015 to 9,000 tons in 2019, worth $8.5 million. Recently, our country has secured new avocado markets in China and India.
The Tanzanian avocado matures later than other major avocado producing countries, which gives Tanzanian producers a favorable comparative advantage.
This, coupled with the growing global demand for avocados, puts Tanzania in a favorable position to further tap into the export market.
The Tanzanian trade map suggests that between 2016 and 2020, there has been a notable 82% increase in annual avocado export earnings, especially to European markets.
Commercial avocado cultivation offers a way to successfully diversify Tanzania’s horticulture crop portfolio, thereby enhancing the value of the horticulture sub-sector.
Despite great potential, the competitiveness of the Tanzanian avocado industry relative to other South American producers is hampered by inefficiencies in plant selection, certification and taxation systems, as well as insufficient collection centers and packing plants and inadequate transport infrastructure, resulting in high post-harvest losses.
Among the priority needs identified are improved coordination between different institutions, support through policy and legislative instruments, facilitation of certification and export procedures, among other sector enabling interventions.
In this context, the Ministry of Agriculture, with the support of technical assistance from the AGRI-CONNECT program, has decided to draw up a “Lawyer Strategic Plan” which defines specific actions, guidelines and assigns responsibilities to different stakeholders to drive the development of the avocado industry.
The conference aims to gather input from all relevant stakeholders to design a clear implementation plan that will improve coordination and prioritize actions needed to promote the Tanzanian avocado industry.
The discussions will be organized around three sub-themes which will be presented by speakers from leading institutions: