EDITORIAL: BANANA TRADE DEAL SHOULD AWAKEN OTHER CROP BODIES

Thursday October 07 2021

There is new hope for banana farmers in Tanzania, thanks to a trading initiative by the Nairobi-based Twiga Foods Company and the crop’s farmers spearheaded by the Kilimanjaro-based Mackjaro Company.

Twiga Foods, which distributes fresh fruits and vegetables in Kenyan cities, has pledged to buy bananas from Tanzania, thus bringing relief to farmers in Tanzania who have traditionally grown bananas mainly for subsistence than commercial purposes.

This move is exemplary, and should be extended to other crops in bona fide efforts to help transform the livelihoods of our farmers down the line.

Undoubtedly, commercial banana cultivation has the potential to bring in millions in foreign exchange, and also remain a staple in much of the country.

Therefore, the Twiga Foods/Mackjaro initiative is a blessing-in-disguise of sorts not only for our banana farmers, but also for the economy at large in terms of fobs creation, value-addition and incomes generation.

Untold tonnes of bananas and other agricultural crops more often than not go to waste for a myriad reasons, including lack of markets and poor handling, thereby giving a bad name to agriculture as an economic sector with great potential.

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Indeed, this new development should be a wake-up call to crop boards and other stakeholders to start thinking beyond mere subsistence farming and the domestic market – always remembering that Tanzania can also be part and parcel of the annual continental banana market of $4.3 billion.

We need to revive and strengthen reforms and other promotions like the “Kilimo Kwanza” campaign to firmly entrench agriculture on the path to all-inclusive, sustainable socioeconomic development henceforth.

This is wherein come agricultural extension officers and all the way up to the Minister for Agriculture, Prof Adolf Mkenda, who must do more for farm crops in the best interests of the country and its people sooner than later.


MEDICINES AGENCY IS WELCOME

The report that Tanzania signed the Treaty for the Establishment of the African Medicines Agency (AMA) at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on August 10, 2021 is very good news, indeed. In the event, the country became the 22nd out of the 54 AU states to do so, thus acceding to working in close cooperation with fellow AU members in the best interests of general public health, safety and security.

This is most welcome in this day and age of pandemics the likes of Covid-19. The disease first erupted in December 2019 and, through mutation, continues to ravage the world – doing so with increased devastation in new infection waves.

If nothing else, this has prompted world governments and multinationals to frantically search and research for new remedies, both curative and immunising.

We, therefore, appreciate the establishment of the African Medicines Agency, to work in line and along with related institutions under the patronage not only of the AU and its Agenda 2063 as rooted in Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance, but also of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NePAD) and similar partners-in-development in creating and fostering “The Africa we Want”.