Source: Business Times (Dar es Salaam),
Tanzania. 11 April 2003
THE spice industry should be recognized as a distinct sector with a high fast track export potential requiring only low levels of investment, says the Board of External Trade (BET).
A spices Export Development strategy prepared by BET of November 2002 came up with four strategic objectives to rescue the spice sector in the country. Among them are the creation of an adequate institutional structure for sector leadership, increasing the capacity of the sector to meet technical requirements of the market and accelerated expansion of the industry.
Achieving recognition for the sector being the major strategic objective, BET discovered that this strategy is paramount because the perceived underlying problem would appear to be the awareness and recognition of the spice industry as a significant sector with a tremendous export potential.
To improve the spice sector, BET intends to create and establish an appropriate institutional framework for the sector to enable it to realize its full potential. It will take full advantage of the private and public sector smart partnership.
According to BET, this strategy can only work if there is the establishment of the Tanzania Spice Producers and Exporters Association (TSPEA) and designation of the research and development responsibility to existing research institutions particularly to support small holder producers.
Regarding increasing the capacity to meet the technical requirement of the market, the Board suggested that Tanzania has to improve its reputation as a quality supplier in world markets since it has a good opportunity of capturing markets within Africa and overseas, e.g. in the East African Community (EAC), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
Furthermore, in the expanding European Union, Tanzania has tariff free market entry under the Everything But Arms (EBA) arrangement and the huge US market preferential treatment under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which Tanzania has now fully ratified.
To acquire success in the strategic objectives, the Board is expected to involve the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and the Tanzania Investment Centre in order to mobilize and encourage both foreign and local investment.
The spice industry presents a major opportunity for Tanzania to exploit and reap economic benefits in the relatively short term with only a nominal input of resources and attention. Among the opportunities within the sector development are the thousands of small farmers that are already knowledgeable about spices. Thus training would not start from scratch. Others are the exchange rate and trade regimes that are liberalized. There is a growing market for derived products such as extracts and oleoresins.
The world market for spices and herbs is valued at over US$2.3 billion. From 1995 to 1999 imports averaged 500 000 tonnes growing at an average of 8.5 percent/year.
However, the sector also has problems, e.g. Tanzanian spices are not branded; the majority of the products have no traceability system; and the poor image of Tanzania as a source of supply needs urgent reversal.
The spices currently being produced by Tanzania include: cardamom, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, garlic, black pepper, cloves, chilli, onions, vanilla, cumin, coriander, paprika, mustard, spring onions and nutmeg. Spice production in Tanzania is mainly carried out in areas with tropical and subtropical climate. Normally no chemical fertilizers are used.
Available data of the spice industry sector indicate that overall the sector has been growing by more than 10 percent per annum in value terms since 1997. The actual export value grew from US$1 148 000 in 1997 to US$11 000 000 in 2001.
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