New hope for farmers as TRC set to transport perishables

Minister of Transport, Prof. Makame Mbarawa (centre), cuts the ribbon to mark the launch of special refrigerated waggons for transporting fruits and vegetables on September 11, 2023. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The WFP has handed over five refrigerated railroad cars worth $337,000 (about Sh840 million) to the state-run railway company for a cold chain project

Dar es Salaam. Farmers are set to start using the central railway line to transport perishables, thanks to a partnership agreement between the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC).

The WFP has handed over five refrigerated railroad cars worth $337,000 (about Sh840 million) to the state-run railway company for a cold chain project.

The move will save transport costs and boost the agricultural market in Tanzania.

With the partnership, farmers between Dodoma and Dar es Salaam will transport highly perishable vegetables such as tomato and other perishable vegetables to avoid post-harvest losses.

“Based on the success of initial phase, WFP and TRC will extend the project to additional railway sections including Arusha, Moshi,Tanga,Kigoma and Dar es Salaam where there is production of horticulture, livestock and fisheries,” WFP representative Ms Sarah Gordon-Gibson said yesterday during the handover ceremony of the refrigerators.  She added: Through this partnership, we will bring TRC and WFP’s experience, expertise and knowledge together to contribute to transforming the food value chain using agricultural cooling facilities.

She said the aim is to have a sustainable cold chain that will reduce losses and waste, increase the availability of fresh, nutritious and affordable products.

It will also create employment, improve farmers’ income, leading to a food and nutrition security for all, which is the heart of WFPs mandate, she said.

Ms Gordon-Gibson noted that Tanzania is among 20 largest producers of fresh horticulture products globally and the fastest growing industry, within the national agricultural sector, which is dominated by smallholder farmers and represents an important percentage of the Tanzanian agricultural GDP. However, despite significant progress in the importance of horticulture to the economy, large quantities of agricultural crops (estimated 30-40) per cent are lost along the value chain due to lack of cold storage.

Officiating the event, minister of Transport Prof Makame Mbarawa urged local and foreign investors to partner with TRC to help implement various development projects.

“The government will continue creating an enabling environment for farmers so that they are able to transport the products fast, safe and cost effective,” he said.

A horticulture stakeholder, Mr Ally Buguyo said the partnership between two institutions will boost their business.

“Most of the time we transport our products by road, which is big a challenge because the vehicle sometimes get a breakdown, leading to the rotting of our products. It is sometimes difficult to access loans from banks because most financial institutions hesitate to provide loans to us just because we deal with perishable products,” he said.