Access to quality seed for sustainable farming in Tanzania
The Northern circuit of Tanzania is a hub for horticultural activities where most Dutch companies are located. This region is important for seed production due to favorable climates. With the presence of the biggest horticultural seed breeders in the World, this region stands a chance to become a hub for seed production if a favorable business environment is in place.
This year the Ambassador of the Netherlands in Tanzania together with the Regional Agricultural Counsellor for Kenya and Tanzania celebrated valentines week in Moshi and Arusha visiting Dutch companies, the seed sector association to explore the state of affairs of the seed sector in Tanzania. In the course of this week, the team had the privilege to engage in roundtable discussions with Dutch seed companies, have bilateral talks with the regional manager of the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) in Arusha and do field visits.
Trends and developments in the seed sector
On 15th February 2022, the Regional Agricultural Counsellor for Kenya and Tanzania, Mrs. Ingrid Korving, hosted a working dinner for Dutch seed companies located in the Norther circuit of Tanzania. In the presence of the Ambassador of the Netherlands, H.E Wiebe de Boer. Theme of the event was “quality seed for sustainable farming’’. This theme was geared to understand availability and access of quality seed in Tanzania, whilst zooming in on the current status and looking for opportunities to bring together the sector and address some of the challenges jointly.
Various stakeholders participated, such as different local and international seed companies. Moreover, the Tanzania Seed Traders Association (TASTA) and Tanzania Horticulture Association (TAHA) got an opportunity to share a sector overview and some of the business climate issues that the two associations are key on advocating for conducive business environment for seed sector in Tanzania.
There is a growing demand for high quality horticultural seeds as Tanzanian farmers are increasingly becoming aware of importance of utilizing approved quality seeds. Potentially, larger number of farmers are moving from the use of low yielding varieties to high quality seeds. The main challenge that remains is the availability in terms of quantity and access of quality seed. The gap between supply and demand calls for collaborative efforts to lobby and put in place mechanisms to get rid of counterfeit products in the market.
Seed sector challenges
Over dinner, representative from each seed companies had the opportunity to give their view on the trends and developments in the seed sector. Remarkably, a number of recommendations for improvement were suggested from companies based on their experience in the worldwide seed trade.
Delays in VAT refund was mentioned to affect cash flow of companies. Companies noted that the VAT refund affects the level of their investment. They would invest more into the sector, as they see Tanzania has the right climate and conditions to be the seed hub in the region if this challenge could be resolved. With good seed, farmers can get a higher yield and improve their households economic conditions. The cost of seed is only 2% of total production costs however on the farmer side the access to quality seeds is hindered by lack of enough of financial resources to purchase available seeds for the next farming season
Tanzania needs to move with the pace of the world. Difficulties in importation of biological control in Tanzania is acting as stumbling block
For years, logistics has been a major challenge for seed importers. It takes nearly three months through sea freight to complete the seed journey when importing from abroad, which could jeopardize the seed quality. Dealing with administration and papers add to the time of import especially on clearance. It was also reported that clarity and volatility of regulations governing the seed sub-sector causes setbacks. More stable policies would make it easier to predict business trends and the sector growth pattern to decide direction of investment. Following shifts in market demand in Europe and elsewhere, it is increasingly becoming important to invest in organic farming to secure market deals in Europe. This is an effect of the world becoming more health conscious and increased importance of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) product traceability measures.
Knowledge sharing hub for the horticulture Sector
East West Seed championed training of farmers on Good Agronomical Practices (GAP) zooming in on local vegetables. The company has shared a lot of knowledge and information in the “journey of seed” and invites the stakeholders to use and disseminate the knowledge to benefit farmers across the horticultural sector. The knowledge is available free via the East West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation website High quality farming guides for smallholder farmers (eastwestseed.com).
Field visits in pictures to various Dutch companies
Cooperation between Tanzania and the Netherlands
The Netherlands Embassy will further discuss the addressed issues with respective authorities. The embassy is working together with the World vegetable center to bring together the seed sector and government authority to have a joint dialogue on how these challenges can be addressed. Companies will be involved in the preparations and invited to attend in Arusha in a near future. Stay tuned!
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