Seed companies and the Tanzanian horticulture sector
This case study (PDF) by the Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI), looks at the potential value of horticulture for farmers in Tanzania, and the contribution of the seed sector to the growing Tanzanian horticulture sector. The horticulture sector in Tanzania has two major crop groups: introduced vegetables grown commercially for trade to fresh urban markets and traditional African vegetables. This can be further divided into the domestic market (95% or more) and the export market. There are a number of opportunities for the horticulture sector. First, small farmers could all use commercial open pollinated varieties (OPV) and adopt low-cost production technologies. Small scale commercial oriented farmers use higher-quality seeds with more sophisticated production processes. For seed companies, there is a major market developing through the potentially large number of farmers moving to high-quality OPV and hybrid seeds. Good collaboration with all farmer extension programs is of great value. The government could support improvements in a deliberate manner, and thus ensure a more productive and profitable sector that can meet ever-growing consumer demand while generating valuable income tax. Regarding challenges, the lack of knowledge about pesticides, fungicides and irrigation are needed when leads to their inappropriate and excessive use. This is costly to both farmers and the environment. Seed companies need to carefully consider how to balance their marketing and demonstration efforts. The government has an essential role to play in providing effective, structural extension support to the horticulture sector. A lesson learned in the case study is that a (more than) decent income is possible for most farmers. However, risks of crop losses and volatile prices means that farmers need to save for bad years. Thus, good horticulture is definately a pathway out of poverty. A profitable, responsible sector meeting the national needs is possible and reliable seed companies are critical to the vitality of the sector.
Two interviews accompanying the publication can be found here.