Japan envoy pledges support for agro-processing sector


Japan envoy pledges support for agro-processing sector

By Judica Tarimo
15th July 2012

The government of Japan yesterday boosted its support for Kilimo Kwanza (Green Revolution) initiative, promising to assist in stepping up effective interventions to enhance value addition of agricultural produce.

The country’s ambassador to Tanzania, Masaki Okada mentioned this intention in conversation with IPP Executive Chairman, Dr. Reginald Mengi, at the latter’s office in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

The envoy was responding to Mengi’s question on Japan government’s strategies in supporting implementation of the Kilimo Kwanza initiative, widely seen as key to effective transformation of the sector, the backbone of the country’s economy.

He said that the quality of agricultural products was a crucial component in attracting buyers, locally and abroad. “We recognize initiatives made by the government of Tanzania in revamping the agriculture sector,” he said, noting that as part of Japanese support, “we are trying to step up interventions to back up Tanzania’s efforts in improving the performance of this important sector.”

He said that very soon, Japanese companies will be coming to Tanzania to assist people in adding value to agricultural products. Agro-processing companies from Japan would set up plants and operations in different parts of the country, he elaborated. “It’s not that Japanese agro-processing companies are coming to generate profits, but we want to assist in adding value of agricultural produce here in Tanzanians and benefit farmers at the same time,” the envoy declared.

Speaking generally about Tanzania-Japan business relations, he said Tanzanian business people need to improve the quality of their goods and conduct extensive market surveys to enable their products fetch lucrative markets in Japan.

“At the moment, goods from Tanzania fail to get markets in Japan because of low quality. Besides, Tanzanians should go an extra mile by studying market trends in Japan. They have to understand what customers like and deliver export products according to such tastes or interests,” he said, emphasising that approach would enhance growth of local exports and marketability of Tanzanian products.

Chipping in, IPP executive chairman Dr. Mengi asked the Japanese envoy how authorities in Japan could support Tanzania get out of the prolonged power crisis, which has negatively impacted most companies’ prospects and growth as a whole. Ambassador Okada said that recently a Japanese company had signed a power generation project for installation of a 240 MW plant in Dar es Salaam, which adds to what Japan has been doing in providing technical assistance like training electricity technicians and engineers.

A project for the installation of power distribution and transmission networks for power supply in Zanzibar is also underway, he said, noting that technical capacity-building is one of the major factors contributing to power problems in Tanzania. Dr. Mengi posed a challenging on practical strategies to lift the East African country out of abject poverty. “Tanzania is one the richest countries in natural resources, but its people are so poor. What’s your advice to help us out of this situation?” he asked the envoy.

The Japanese ambassador explained that the country needs to put more emphasis on training human resources, as abundant natural resources would not help if there were no well-trained and educated people to manage the resources.

“You have to invest in education for effective management of natural resources. This is the only way to stimulate growth and development, thus help the country and its people out of poverty,” the envoy added.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY

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