TANZANIA – Onion growers in Mkata village, Morogoro Region, Tanzania, are set to reap substantial financial rewards, exceeding TZS 1 billion (USD 397,614) this year, thanks to the Resilient Natural Resources for Growth Project (REGROW).

The initiative, funded by the World Bank, has injected a TZS 17 million (USD 6,667) start-up capital into the local onion farming community.

The farmers, organized under the Tushikamane group, received crucial support from the Community Conservation Bank (COCOBA), a financial scheme committed to economically empowering communities surrounding national parks.

This collaboration signifies a significant step towards sustainable agriculture and community development.

One of the key components of the project involved providing training to the farmers, equipping them with essential entrepreneurial skills, modern agricultural techniques, and financial literacy.

The training encompassed personal financial management, budgeting, and investment strategies, empowering the farmers to navigate the complexities of the market successfully.

“The REGROW Project has been instrumental in transforming our approach to onion farming. The financial support, coupled with valuable training, has not only enhanced our productivity but has also opened new avenues for economic growth,” expresses a grateful member of the Tushikamane group.

The strategic focus of the REGROW Project extends beyond individual farmer empowerment. It aims to promote tourism in the southern circuit, improve the management of attractions, and elevate the income levels of villagers.

The project’s impact is particularly felt in villages bordering the Southern Highlands national parks, including Ruaha, Mikumi, Udzungwa, and Nyerere.

Onion farming has emerged as a thriving business in Tanzania, with the Blue Mountains region witnessing a surge in production.

According to a report by Rikolto in East Africa, over 384 farmers in the villages of Msitu wa Tembo and Londoto are actively involved in onion and tomato cultivation across more than 781 acres of land during different seasons of the year.

The increasing popularity of onion and tomato production among Tanzanian farmers can be attributed to higher profits and reduced risks compared to other vegetable products.

Tanzania’s onion exports, totaling 81,000 tons in 2019 and 2020, generated over TZS 75 billion (USD 29.4 million). Key destinations for Tanzania’s onion exports included Uganda, Rwanda, Netherlands, Burundi, and Comoros.

Tanzania’s active participation in the East African Community (EAC) market is evident, with 39,000 tons of onions sold in 2019 and over 42,000 tons in 2020, earning TZS 38 billion (USD 14.93 million) and TZS 42.5 billion (USD 16.7 million), respectively.

In 2021, Tanzania exported USD 5.44 million worth of onions, ranking as the 51st largest exporter globally. Meanwhile, imports amounted to USD 625k, positioning Tanzania as the 173rd largest importer.

The Observatories of Economic Complexity projects a decrease in Tanzanian onion consumption to around 73 thousand metric tons by 2026, reflecting a 3.2% decline from the current level of 88 thousand metric tons in 2021.

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