East Africa initiates fresh drive to grow apples, cut down on imports

What you need to know:

  • Experts further say apple farming is emerging as a highly promising and profitable agricultural endeavour in Tanzania and Africa

Arusha. Apple farming in East Africa will be given a push to minimise imports from outside the region.

The drive will be spearheaded by the East African Business Council (EABC), an apex body of private sector associations in the region.

The region currently imports an estimated $400 million to $500 million worth of fresh apples annually.

The EABC, in partnership with a business organisation called Tamu Tamu Tanzania (TTT), will host a webinar on Thursday to kick-start the process.

'Investing in Apple Farming in East Africa and Agro B2B Networking' is aimed at empowering agri-actors in the commercial cultivation of the fruit.

The drive will empower actors in the apple value chain with the necessary knowledge to capitalise on the simplified market demand for apples in the region.

According to EABC, the East African Community (EAC) region currently imports fresh apples worth between $400 million and $500 million.

Imported apples are utilised in various processed products, such as juice, alcoholic beverages and snacks.

Agricultural experts say the East African region can produce over 100,000 well-tended and matured apples in just one acre.

Participants in the webinar will have the opportunity to gain insights from esteemed industry experts and exchange experiences on how to enhance the competitiveness of the agri-food industry in the EAC.

Experts further say apple farming is emerging as a highly promising and profitable agricultural endeavour in Tanzania and Africa.

The insight came to light during a Zoom meeting held on February 1, 2024, and organised by the Sagcot Centre, a facility funded by various donors to boost agricultural productivity.

The meeting was part of a larger dialogue aimed at exploring agricultural prospects within the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and other areas in Tanzania that are conducive to apple cultivation.

The session boasted contributions from Tamu Tamu Tanzania Director David Runge, who provided valuable knowledge on the subject.

During the event, the significance of apple farming as a viable and profitable business avenue in these regions was underscored.

In his presentation, Mr Runge outlined the potential and profitability of apple farming in the East African region.

He emphasised that the venture was not just agriculturally viable but also economically rewarding, with Tanzania set to be a potential leader in apple production within Africa.

Tamu Tamu Tanzania’s journey, which began between 2016 and 2017, involves extensive research and development in apple cultivation.

The company has successfully introduced and adapted over 50 apple varieties from various global regions to suit the African climate.

Out of these, 10 varieties have shown promising results, enabling farmers in different parts of Tanzania and other African countries to choose varieties best suited to their local environments.

Mr Runge underscored five reasons apple farming is a lucrative venture in Tanzania.

These include the high market demand and sales prices for locally grown apples, lower water requirements compared to other crops and the diversification of farmer income sources.

Others are resilience against climate change and the longevity of apple trees, which some experts say can last for over a century.