East Africa: Tanzanian Onion Growers Start Exports to South Sudan
By Marc Nkwame
Arusha — Onion usually make people cry when peeling them but they are now causing tears of joy among Arumeru growers who have started exporting to South Sudan.
Arusha has started exporting onions to the youngest African nation through a recent initiative by Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) to assist local vegetable growers in Arumeru District.
That was revealed during the farmers’ day at Oleigenuro Village in Ilkiding’a ward of Arumeru where lately vegetable growers have started investing in modern onion farming using advanced furrow cultivation methods, hybrid seedlings and organic fertilisers for bumper yields.
TAHA, through its TAHA Fresh Produce logistics, has enabled local growers to export their onions to as far as Juba in South Sudan and Mombasa in Kenya. “In our initiative to support small scale growers, we have divided the area into several zones, in Arumeru for instance we have the Upper Hill Zone where farmers grow mostly onions and the lower plains specialise in tomatoes,” TAHA Extension Officer in Arumeru Lotto Simon said.
He stated that they have over 200 hillbillies onion growers in Arumeru who enjoy bumper harvests owing to their adherence to value chain and working in mutual cooperation with farm input companies and logistic firms. They together export onions produce worth over 2bn/-per good season.
Arumeru District Agriculture Officer Lucy Stefan Mvungi said in the past many farmers could hardly succeed due to poor connection with input suppliers and market outlets, “We are happy that the private sector has taken over the task of assisting local growers, linking them to input suppliers and reliable markets,” she said.
TAHA Executive Director Jacqueline Mkindi is of the view that with their advanced farming methods, growers in Arumeru need to start practising division of labour. “Gone are the days when farmers used to do everything, grow seeds, raise crops, harvest, transport and sell their produce themselves…we need some people to specialise in seed productions, farming and others taking care of transportation and marketing,” she said.
Ms Mkindi said many youth may not be interested in the tasks of cultivating and planting crops, but most will be able to perform other duties like packaging, marketing and transporting farm produce to complete the value chain.
One of the farmers, Mr Deogratius Mollel from Baraa Ward, said through the appropriate farming methods, he is now capable of harvesting up to two tonnes from a single acre, “That is about 200 sacks and in good times the sack of onions can rake in 100,000/-, translating into 20m/-per acre per season…vegetables have indeed turned into gold.”