Continued agriculture economic growth in Tanzania has awoken the need to facilitate an enabling environment where key actors in the agricultural value chain can meet on a professional platform. Thus creation of agricultural trade fairs-cum-exhibitions. The essence is to fast track Tanzania’s economic development by setting a highway towards a modern, competitive, productive and commercial agricultural economy. This ambition is certainly achievable, but interference by non-agricultural activities have more often than not detracted from the business aspects of the event.
The most prominent event to honour farmers and livestock keepers is the National Agricultural Show. This annual event runs from the 1st to 8th August. Apart from this initiative, Tanzania is beginning to witness complemetary events to enhance the noble course. On 26th and 27th January 2017 Tanzania hosted a professional farming exhibition at Selian Agricultural Research Institute, situated in the outskirts of Arusha City. The main theme of this event was: Enabling advances in commercial farming – boosting productivity. Over 3,000 people from all works of life assembled at the Selian grounds to witness the latest farm implements and inputs, plus allied services.
Prior to this event, Tanzania had earlier hosted agricultural exhibitions in Dar es Salaam for three consecutive years ( 2014 to 2016). The organizers were: Spintelligent from South Africa, a worldwide institution which is famous in organizing “business-to-business” events. The predcursor of Agritech Expo was: Agribusiness Congress – East Africa. It was an ideal platform which brought together the complete agricultural spectrum: farmers, inputs suppliers, researchers, processors, traders and consumers to see, discuss, exchange skills and experiences. It is also an opportunity to strike business deals.
The overall vision of this initiative is to address pertinent issues that impede a speedy flourishing of the Tanzanian agricultural industry. Stakeholders in the agribusiness sector get equipped with the information on how to become better farmers, better producers, and better service providers. The event provides an opportunity to critically examine issues such as accessing affordable finance, infrastructure development, fostering multiple stakeholder partnerships, and access to regional and international markets for agricultural produce.
Gracing the expo
Agritech Expo was graced by the presence of the Arusha District Commissioner, Mr. Gabriel F. Daqarro who deputised the Arusha Regional Commissioner. In his brief presentation, Mr. Daqarro praised the organizers for a well planned and executed agri-expo. He pointed out the need give the agriculture sector extra attention because while the overall economic growth of Tanzania is 7% annually, the growth of this sector is relatively slow (4%). In other words, this sector has failed to uplift the rural communities from destitute and misery. He, therefore, emphasized the need to revisit our strategies and programmes with a view to make agriculture our top priority.
The Commissioner said agriculture in Tanzania is facing many challenges, including dependence on rain-fed farming, underdeveloped irrigation infrastructure, adverse climate changes, stringent financing terms, post-harvest crop loss, an unreliable market for farmers’ produce, the never ending land conflicts. He underscored a need to use this occasion to deliberate on how best we can tackle these challenges and make agribusinesses much better rewarding.
Another key speaker was Ms. Emmanuelle Nicholls, Spintelligent Group Director. She informed the gathering that the main advantage of visiting the Agritech Expo is to be exposed to technological advances that will lift you to the next level of performance. In other words, improve the way they do business. She intimated that most of the exhibitions are tailored to suit farmers of all grades and specific needs.
The exhibition ground showcased a wide variety of leading agro-machinery; irrigation equipments and utility vehicles; pesticides, fertilizers and improved seeds; and several financing companies. Among the most noticeable exhibitors were: John Deere, Lonagro, Ford, CMC Motors, Hughes Motors, Irrico, Rivulis, AMDT/PASS, NMB, FNB, Balton, Kibo Seeds, Monsanto, Yara, Balton, AfriVet, TFA and many more.
Upgrading the event
After a successful performance in staging this event for three years in succession, The organizers saw it fit to raise it to a higher standard. Thus, Agritech Expo – Tanzania was born. It is a transition from Agribusiness Congress – East Africa. Whereas Spintelligent is the chief architect of this event, the host organizations are Agricultural Council of Tanzania – ACT and Tanzania Horticultural Association – TAHA.
Furthermore, the event was seasoned with lectures presented by experts on various agricultural related subjects. The list included:
- The role of technology in the transformation of agriculture
- Water conservation: Drip irrigation and smart greenhouse solution
- Innovative approaches to maximize horticultural yields
- Facilitating small-scale farming with home grown nutrition
- Enabling smallholder farmers to contribute to feeding the world
- Financing agriculture for secured and sustainable growth
- Guidance on how to access better / rewarding crop market.
Agritech Expo has established itself in Tanzania. It is poised to host the exhibition for many years to come. It is imperative the organisers and stakeholders, in general, should join hands to ensure this event becomes a hall-mark of the Tanzanian agriculture. This will be realised by very firm commitment from public and private sectors. They must join hands to make our dreams and aspirations come true.