Arusha. The Tanzania Horticultural Association - working in collaboration with key global entities - has rolled out a ‘Marshall Plan’ to bridge skills gap in the multi-million-dollar industry.
Horticulture relies heavily on an array of skills. But, a skilled labour shortage has compelled producers to hire foreign experts to support the country’s efforts to unlock the industry’s full potential.
The ‘Marshall Plan’ is intended to produce highly-skilled personnel to spur the industry’s growth and earn the economy $1.85 billion per annum in the next five years (up from the current $779 million) and feed the world, as well as create jobs and wealth for youth and women.
To achieve the ambitious target, Taha has struck a strategic partnership agreement with the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP), the World Vegetable Centre (WVC) and the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) - who have a vast experience in skills development - to pioneer practical horticultural training.
COLEACP is an international network promoting sustainable horticultural trade between ACP countries and the European Union, while WVC is a competent institute for vegetable research and development.
“The MoU signing between Taha, COLEACP, WVC and NM-AIST marks a turning point in bridging practical skills gap in Tanzania’s horticulture value chains. The 5-year pilot programme will see to thousands of youths being imparted with prerequisite skills to unlock the industry potential” said the Taha Group chief executive officer, Ms Jacqueline Mkindi.
The deal paves the way for the rolling out of the accredited horticultural practical training programme, offering local and international recognized certificate and diploma courses at the most prestigious Pan-African University: the arusha-based NM-AIST.
The MoU indicates that Taha is duty-bound to coordinate private and public sectors to support the project, promote and market the programme to the entire industry as well as oversee practical session.
NM-AIST is entrusted to offer highly practical trainings, conduct crops research from farm to laboratory and come up with hybrid seeds to add value in horticulture yields. The WVC and COLEACP will bring their vast experience on research and development, post harvest management and technology crucial to turn around the horticulture.
“The horticulture value chain is currently experiencing a seismic shift in terms of production, technology and the necessary skills required. And the competent labour force - or lack thereof - has become the single biggest hand-break to industry growth” Ms Mkindi explained. The NM-AIST Vice-Chancellor, Prof Emmanuel Luoga, vowed to deliver the competent graduands not only fit for labour market, but also the job creators.
“Through the programme, we intend to produce high skilled personnel in horticulture value addition to be able to make perfumes and export instead of raw flowers” Prof. Luoga noted.
The COLEACP Director for Operations, Mr Jeremy Knops, confirmed his organization’s commitment to the initiative.
For his part, the flagship Leader Healthy Diets and Officer-in-Charge for World Vegetable Regional Center for Eastern and Southern Africa, Dr Ralph Roothaert appreciated to work with Taha and NM-AIST to transform the country’s horticulture industry.