By Bernard Kihiyo
Tanzania practiced socialism policy for about twenty years 1967-1987; due to this it hadn’t took economic advantage on most of its resources due to presence of a weak private sector to support the current open market economy without the support of foreign direct investments (FDI) and expertise; we had been used to have state controlled economy; where government was the provider of social services at the same time doing business, horticultural industry was not one of the government priorities.
For several years; Tanzania flowers growers were using Jomo Kenyatta international Airport and not Kilimanjaro was purely caused by lack of enough cargo of fresh flowers for a commercial charter to land at Kilimanjaro International Airport
Hopefully; with the inauguration of flight - Boeing 747-200 cargo aircraft from Kilimanjaro International Airport to lift the flower has gone hand in hand with increases in production which led to have enough cargo of fresh flowers. I believe there are long term strategies in place with the support of US government to make this dream to come true.
Viewing the idea from all points of views; it has a great impact to our economy as it is going to increase the number of employment opportunities to Tanzanians, it will increase foreign currency from the export earnings; however there must be tight control on what had been exported and what is the actual income from those exports; let us not repeat the same mistake on what happened to our minerals auditing (Alex Stuart Scandals and the like)
We; Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) see the future of horticulture industry to be more of export oriented rather than been for domestic production, as the economic welfare of most of Tanzania consumers continue to struggle to attain certain basic needs and not wants, very few will afford to buy flowers for their loved ones, as majority will prioritize their little income to satisfy their basic ‘’needs’’ or necessary goods or services for their survival. These include things that if not met will jeopardize health, safety or their well being.
Whereas flowers are goods that make our lives more comfortable and enjoyable, they provide lifestyle for people whom think so, therefore flowers are just ‘’wants’’. Majority of Tanzania consumers might wish to have and acquire flowers as a personal affection and to have social identity but any human being can survive even without them.
I have a very little advice to make to all concern in horticultural industry in Tanzania; to focus and diversify their attention to; some nice tropical flowers and herbs production, as there are several pharmaceutical industries looking for herbs especially from African tropical countries. This sort of creativity will boost the horticultural industry to have more competitive advantage over other flowers growers in the world.
Kenya private sector had been doing and develop the horticultural industry over years even before independence, there had been long term strategies to exploit and acquire the world market share over flowers to Kenya’s advantages, for instance focusing on flowers which other big growers could not produce due to weather barrier; Kenya managed to create its own brand in terms of flowers.
If Tanzania would like to invest onto horticultural industry it should be able to demonstrate strong firm-level capabilities on the supply side to market products and services worldwide, in order to win willingness of sophisticated consumers on the demand side, whom will be ready to pay for Tanzania firm’s flowers and it should not operates under the shadow of Kenya.
To elaborate more on the above; competition over flowers production has been massive from other growers and even artificial flowers have acquired a significant world market share. I believe Tanzania has all necessary potentials to enable the industry to grow, one being having ample and arable land, supportive climate, ample natural resources, enough skilled and cheap labour.
What is missing in our mix is seriousness on using these potentials for our economic development. Tanzania will only leap more than Kenya only if it takes a triple-bottom-line approach to their performance that is: sensitivity to international standards, quality and business best practice should be on our finger tips if we real want to survive in this new era of globalized economy-horticultural industry if one is to be more specific.