Among the leading reports on the front pages of both our popular dailies yesterday was on the acceptance in India and South Africa of avocado exports from Tanzania.
This is very good news indeed, especially considering the relatively huge consumer markets of both countries, whose total population in 2021 was estimated at 1.460 billion.
To that noble end, the government – working hand-in -glove with the Tanzania Horticultural Association (Taha Group) – has already secured official permits to access the two export markets beginning in November last year.
And, according to the deputy minister for Agriculture, Mr Anthony Mavunde, the government is just as industrially working to also formally secure the 1.440 billion consumer market of the People’s Republic of China for the country’s avocados – already refereed to as Tanzania’s green gold for the world’s export markets.
The deputy minister revealed this at the Julius Nyerere’s International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam on Saturday when he was ceremoniously seeing off an air cargo of two tonnes of fresh avocado exports to India.
Tanzania has hitherto been producing an estimated 40,000 tonnes of avocados annually, only about nine tonnes of which are exported as a matter of course.
Now, that scenario is about to change for the better – what with the country’s new-found ‘green gold’ been exported not only to India and South Africa now, but also – hopefully soon – to China and other major markets, thanks to the government’s efforts.
Tanzania well-suited for avocado industry
Tanzania has all the natural charasteristics that are considered suitable for avocado farming. These range from plenty or arable land – only a fraction of which is currently being used – and to virtually idle labour in our teeming youth.
Furthermore, we are starting to have a growing captive market in a world where only about two million tonnes of the crop are produced annually.
The fruit itself as highly nutritious, containing a fatty oil based on linoleic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and other fatty acids.
It also contains phenols (caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid, p-coumaric acid), alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, folic acid, pantothenic acid, fructose, glucose, sucrose, fibres, amino acids, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, sodium, potassium, zinc, iron, phosphorus, copper, manganese and magnesium, Vitamins B6, C, D, and E – plus loads and loads of protein in its pulp...
But then again, avocado leaves, seeds, oil and the bark do have therapeutic properties, including herbal medicine qualities.
We have deliberately gone to great lengths here to stress the importance of avocados.
This is not only avocados as food and medicine, but also the pivotal role which the crop can play in a country’s economy, from the individual/family/household to the national levels of the economy.
We, therefore, call upon the Government, ably assisted by other stakeholders – including especially the TAHA Group, economic diplomats and other development partners – to establish ways and means of not only increasing the quantity and quality of avocado production, but also tapping the value-addition chain by domestically processing avocados into salads, cooking oil, soaps, cosmetics, herbal medicines, to mention but a few