The government plans to construct a major warehouse at Holili border in Rombo District, Kilimanjaro Region, to ensure Tanzania fully reaps economic fortunes from increased banana production.
To be constructed alongside with a special centre for attaining additional value chain for the country’s key cash crop, the facility will purposefully be designed to store banana bunches before being shipped abroad.
The envisaged plan targets to discourage an increasing wave of traders from neighbouring countries, especially Kenya, to land in the country to purchase banana. Instead, the government now wants to directly start exporting the crop to outside markets.
According to Rombo District Commissioner (DC) Agnes Hokororo, the regional authority has already approached some potential donors to see the possibility of acquiring funds to set up the project.
“Our focus is to install an equipped warehouse; one which will allow banana to be stored in a more scientific manner hence reaching the faraway markets while still fresh and at recommended international standards,” she explained.
She added that there was a surging demand for banana in many countries, a crucial opportunity that must be used fully by farmers in the district and the government as a whole.
‘We are currently sensitizing the farmers to organise themselves in special groups so that they may stand a better chance to benefit from the future plans,” she told reporters.
Apart from enabling many banana growing households to accelerate diverse socio-economic development, according to the DC, the envisaged plan will play vital role in assisting the district to realise more revenue collection.
In recent years, there has been an impressive development in the banana sub- sector within the region following inception of several interventions that assisted the farmers to adopt best agronomic practices.
Dr Stephen Sebastian, Manager of Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI-Tengeru), expressed hope that the future of banana industry in the country was promising as most farmers in Kilimanjaro Region were now cultivating banana in a more professional way.
For instance, he said, the Banana Agronomy Project, which has directly reached out to at least 5,000 farmers in Rombo District, has played a commendable role in improving banana farmers’ performance.
Through financial support from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the ambitious project is being implemented by TARI in cooperation with Bioversity International, International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Makerere University and Uganda-based National Agriculture Research Organisation (NARO).
As of 2017, production of banana in Tanzania was at 9 tonnes per hectare but presently, due to several interventions, production has increased substantially to at least 19 tonnes per hectare.