Posted with permission from allAfrica.com

THE horticulture industry is reported to be growing at the rate of eleven per cent annually, the fastest growing sector in the country, currently earning an average $640m.

"With such rapid growth ... which now beats tourism which grows at just eight per cent, it goes to show that the horticulture is soon going to be the country's leading foreign income earner," points out Mr Geoffrey Simbeye, the Executive Director of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF).

Mr Simbeye was speaking during a special conference convened here on Monday to deliberate critical issues around horticulture transformation in the country. The conference jointly organised by the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), and taking place in Arusha for two days, brings together more than 200 participants both local and international stakeholders.

It also includes delegates from South Korea, whose country is way ahead in the industry; South Korea, in the course of next week would be displaying advanced farming technology targeting to revolutionise horticulture industry in Tanzania.

Korea's horticulture industry yields an average of ten million tons of produce per year. Tanzania, meanwhile, produces around six million tonnes from horticulture.

The TAHA Executive Director Ms Jacline Mkindi says the sector was on course to raise some $ 1.3bn in a year and soon afterwards horticulture aims at beating the tourism industry's own foreign exchange currently clocking at $2bn.

Gracing the event on behalf of the Agriculture Minister, Dr Charles Tizeba, the Mbeya Regional Commissioner, Mr Amos Makalla said at the moment the horticulture industry contributes over 43 per cent of the total agricultural produce in the country and employs at least 2.5 million people.

More than 200 participants from across mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, some parts of Africa and South Korea are meeting in Arusha. Afterwards these will get the opportunity to visit local growers and vegetable exporters.

Mr Ji Gang Kim, the director and senior research scientist from South Korea, said his country would assist Tanzania's horticultural sector in technology to ensure that all their harvests were better processed to add value and attract better and profitable markets abroad.