Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Report lists horticulture snags


By Alex Malanga @ChiefMalanga amalanga@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. A new report lists factors persuading exporters of perishable goods in Tanzania to export their merchandise through Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport instead of doing so from international airports in the country.

These include high charges, bureaucracy, lack of direct flights and policy inconsistencies, according to the report compiled by the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA).

“The tariffs charged in Kenya are lower by comparison – and, for exporters, the process is smoother in that country in terms of the time it takes to export the goods,” says the report unveiled during a stakeholders consultative meeting in Dar es Salaam. Speaking during the meeting, the Julius Nyerere International Airport veterinary research officer, Dr Mora Samira, said the cost of transporting goods from Tanzania to the United Arab Emirates stands at $1.5 per kilogramme, unlike in Kenya, which is between $0.4-0.5.

Again, transportation costs from Tanzania to Europe range from $1.40 to $1.70 per kg, compared to between $1.20 and 1.40 in Kenya. This, Dr Samira said, is according to the Emirates representative in the region, Mr Benny Ngozi.

The report also notes that Kenya has a comparative advantage in the form of the minimum possible number of checkpoints and other bureaucratic impositions, as well as the availability of all the necessary export facilities, such as cooling and preservation facilities for perishables, as well as aircraft at the ready.

“The government and private investors need to ensure that airport charges are competitive enough to win over users of the airports in Tanzania. They also have to ensure ready availability of all the requisite export facilities at the airports,” the TCAA says.

To attract more exporters, the general manager of the Tanzania Horticultural Association (Taha), Mr Aman Temu, said transportation of high-value, fresh horticultural produce requires efficient and reliable direct airfreight services to destination markets.

He said one of the factors that contribute to Kenya’s superlative performance in horticulture exports is the reliable and efficient air transportation direct to destination markets.

Noting that Kenya has a dedicated cargo airfreighting system which transports horticultural produce direct to overseas markets, Mr Temu said, “Kenya has made available cargo handling facilities with cold storage facilities to accommodate all types of perishable products such as meats, fish, fruits, flowers, fresh herbs and vegetables.”

The report urges Tanzania to emulate Kenya by, among other things, giving “very high priority to the (horticultural) sector”, and creating a business friendly environment so as to ensure that perishable produce reaches regional and global markets more efficaciously.

The TCAA director general, Mr Hamza Johari, said Tanzania has not done much to better exploit its enormous horticultural export potential.

Tanzania is among the 20 biggest producers of horticultural crops in the world, but it does not feature among the 20 biggest exporters, he said.

Neighbouring countries have taken advantage of the opportunity and, consequently, they benefit immensely from exporting Tanzanian horticultural products through their outlets (airports and harbours), Mr Johari added.

This, according to stakeholders, is partly because there is a huge mismatch between Tanzania’s national policy statements on the one hand, and actual practice on the other hand.