The Tanzanian Government recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Netherlands to increase the potato production in Tanzania and to develop the local potato industry.
The MOU sets the conditions for importing seed potato varieties from the Netherlands.
The Netherlands’ Minister for Agriculture, Martijn van Dam, and Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, William Ole Nasha, signed the MoU during the Dutch Minister visit to Tanzania on 15–16 June 2016.
Minister van Dam explained: “The [Tanzanian] horticultural sector has grown by more than 75% since 2006. […] Tanzania now produces agricultural and horticultural products for both its own market and for export. […] Yet the sector only accounts for 30% of GDP. The new government is well aware of this and wants to invest heavily in agriculture, energy and infrastructure.”
The Netherlands intends to assist Tanzania in developing its potato industry by working together with the private sector, adapting propagation material to local conditions, training an inspectorate to carry out proper certification and promoting investment in machinery, storage and processing, Minister van Dam added.
The Netherlands is an expert at growing potatoes. Almost 60% of all seed potatoes on the international market are sourced from the Netherlands.
Currently, only 4 different potato varieties are available in Tanzania, while in the Netherlands there are more than 400.
According to Ole Nasha, Tanzania’s current rate of harvesting 8t per hectare is a lot less than its potential of 30t per hectare.
Martijn Van Dam reminded that the Netherlands made similar arrangements with Kenya 4 years ago.
“Dutch potato companies are now growing seed potatoes that enable thousands of local farmers to grow four to five times as many potatoes. Even though we’ve only been working in Kenya for a few years, the lessons we’ve learned there could help us speed things up in Tanzania”, he explained.
In 2013 the Netherlands ended its development relationship with Tanzania, which went back more than 40 years.
However, it has been replaced by a partnership of equals, focused mainly on investment in the economy.
After the United Kingdom, the Netherlands is the second largest EU investor in Tanzania.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BOT) Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) from the Netherlands to Tanzania for the period 2008–2012 totaled USD172.6m.
More than 100 Dutch companies are active in the country, in infrastructure, financial services, energy, transport, technology and maritime services.
In addition, the Netherlands is Tanzania’s largest European trading partner after the UK and Germany.
The main Dutch export products to Tanzania are machinery, transport equipment and chemicals. Main import products from Tanzania are foodstuffs, live animals and non-edible raw materials.