Songea — Farmers in Ruvuma Region have been challenged to grow avocados as their third cash crop.
The advice by senior officials from Ruvuma Region Lusitu Agro-Business and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot) come at a time when available data show that avocados have become Tanzania’s new ‘green gold.’
Tanzania has a high potential for exports of avocados, the country’s latest ‘green gold.’ Close to 9,000 tonnes of avocados valued at $30 million were exported last year, up from almost zero seven years ago.
Against this background, managing director for Lusitu Agro-Business Company, Mr Beno Mgaya, said the move by his company and Sagcot sought to ensure that at initial stage, some 2,500 farmers in the region start growing avocados for export to European markets.
He said Tanzanice and Pro-Organic companies would buy the entire avocado harvest produced by the farmers and export the same to Europe.
He said 12,700 seedlings were being nursed in Liganga ward, Songea District and that 500 more [seedlings] have been planted and were being monitored.
Ten farmer groups with a total of 200 farmers have received orientation on commercial avocado farming, he said, adding that the response is encouraging.
“Our research and soil tests show that this crop can be grown throughout the region. Soil in all the districts has nutrients that support profitable farming of the crop. Based on these scientific findings, we are appealing to farmers to seize this opportunity to transform their lives and the economy of the region,” he said.
He said farmers have to pay Sh105,000 to meet costs for education, farm preparation, soil tests, seedling nurturing and proper planting of 100 seedlings in an acre.
“These are minimum costs to allow farmers to be part of this special project. It is a special package to encourage farmers to grow the crop because is it something new to them. They need this kind of support to become serious avocado growers,” he said.
He said once that base is in place, buyers who include Tanzanice will establish buying and packaging centres to allow the fruits to be flown to European markets.
Sagcot Chief Executive Officer Geoffrey Kirenga pledged sustained cooperation with the pioneer company because, he said, with good supervision avocado farming is bound to be Ruvuma Region’s good third cash crop.
“We shall work closely with them. Avocados have the potential to become a good export crop for Tanzania,” he commented, adding that such a move calls for support from all institutions in the agriculture sector.