Dar es Salaam. Pigeon pea farmers in the country have every reason to smile after 45 processing companies from China said they are ready to buy all the stock that will be harvested next season.
Chinese investors said they will also buy other crops, including coffee, honey, ginger, cassava, soybeans, and tea, if value is added to them.
Tantrade director general Edwin Rutageruka said this over the weekend when briefing reporters on the China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO) that was held from September 12 to 15 in Nannang in China whereby 23 public institutions and businesspeople from Tanzania attended.
“All samples of the products we took with us were accepted, and potential buyers wanted assurance that enough stocks will be available,” he said, adding China’s market was “huge” and many processors were interested in crops produced in Tanzania.
Last year, the price of pigeon peas crashed from Sh2,000 per kilogram to Sh100 after India stopped buying the crop from Tanzania. Some farmers failed to repay bank loans as a result.
In 2016 the production of pigeon peas was 271,882 tonnes. The Ministry of Agriculture estimates that about 300,000 households are involved in pigeon pea farming in Tanzania.
Exports to India ranged from 160,000 to 180,000 tonnes annually out of an estimated annual production of 200,000 tonnes.
Mr Rutageruka challenged farmers to grab the opportunity and start increasing productivity so that they can satisfy the Chinese market. “We will start visiting farmers and make it possible for them to grab this golden opportunity,” he said.