[5 July 2016]
Spicy ventures in Tanzania
Just drive 30 minutes to the north from Stone Town (Zanzibar) or 4 hours to the west from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro and you will be in the middle of large fields full of spices. These fields are of special interest to me these days as they will be part of the Spices and Herbs Trade Mission to Tanzania in November 2016. Therefore, together with a well-informed and enthusiastic guide, I am pleased to discover, smell and try to guess the clove, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, lemon grass, basilicum, vanilla and many other spices and herbs.
A wide range of spice crops is cultivated in Tanzania due to the existence of favourable climate and soil conditions. The spice crops are produced, mainly by small scale farmers in the rural areas, for the local and export markets. More about this can be found in the Spices Sub Sector Strategy (2014), written by Willem van Noort (also the leader of this mission) and Professor Maerere. In this strategy, an elaborate roadmap to develop the Tanzanian spice sub sector is given.
Notwithstanding the usefulness of this roadmap to inform (Dutch) companies and to provide insight in the sector, I am quite sure that walking through the fields, talking to the farmers and being on the ground will help the participating companies in November to make things more tangible. At the same time, you might learn some interesting facts (like the origin of the town called Bububu, which was named after the sound of a train), enjoy a coconut tree climber singing Hakuna Matata and get introduced to an incubator program to process the spices.
In brief, many things that you might miss if you stay behind your desk!
[15 June 2016]
After 3 months in East Africa, last month’s poultry trade mission to Kenya felt a little bit like coming home. A delegation of 15 Dutch companies visited the country, bringing along a lot of banners, brochures and business cards, but also a familiar and perhaps Dutch way of acting and thinking. It strikes me that during every trade mission it appears that the representatives of the Dutch companies are pro-active, eager to interact and willing to share their experience with local stakeholders. Maybe this is a typical Dutch approach.
Even though the delegation in Kenya consisted of 15 (partly competing) companies, the cohesion and the collective interest were perceptible throughout the week. The mission leader, Paul van de Ven, clearly emphasized the importance of acting as a group and helping each other to get local contacts. In this way, the local poultry sector can be stimulated and advised, leading to a next step in the development of the sector. The recurring poultry trade mission to Nigeria, which has already led to several business deals in the sector, might be another example in this context.
In November this year a spices and herbs trade mission is coming to Tanzania. The delegation will include companies from multiple European nations: mainly the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain and Germany. This mission will have an international scope and the objective will be to develop the spices and herbs sector in Tanzania. The quality of the spices and herbs has to be improved in East Africa to comply with the EU standards for export. The common goal of the delegation is to explain those standards and to find new business contacts and exporters of spices and herbs.
Hopefully this common goal with make this European mission just as cohesive as the Dutch mission of last month. In the end, old African proverbs might be true. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I just arrived in Tanzania to prepare this trade mission and to make an overview of the Tanzanian livestock sector. If you have any suggestions or questions for me, please feel free to send a message.
A glimpse of the poultry industry in Uganda
Made in Rwanda
Time flies, especially when you are living in Rwanda. Still there is so much to learn about doing business in Rwanda, but I will continue my journey to Uganda this week.
A topic that returned during many conversations was the eagerness to have a strong ‘Made in Rwanda’ brand. Ambitions relate to for instance setting up a textile factory, a glass factory, vegetable processing or making leather products. In general: why should we import products from China and other countries if we can make those products just as good or even better in Rwanda?
In order to reach this ambition, the government has increased taxes on for example second-hand leather products, like shoes, to discourage buying second-hand material. Officially there is already a ban on some second-hand textile products, but you are still able to find them at the markets.
My next blog post will be from Uganda. Please find more about the Dutch Africa Poultry Platform via this link.Some say that the quality of the local production of clothes is not high enough yet and that investments and knowledge are needed to change this in the coming years. Perhaps Dutch companies can play a role in providing this, not only for the textile industry but also for several other industries. Input from abroad seems to be very welcome!
First impressions of Rwanda
The country of the thousand hills in the centre of Africa is the starting point of my work in East Africa. In the coming weeks, I will provide an image of the agribusiness climate in Rwanda. My main focus is to give Dutch companies in the livestock sector an impression of the opportunities for them to do business in Rwanda and to map the challenges of the local sector.
Eager to stay
The enthusiasm of the Dutch living in Rwanda is outstanding. This reflects the positive way of doing business in Rwanda, the lack of corruption and the modern infrastructure. Going back to the Netherlands seems to be the least favourite thing to do for the Dutch entrepreneurs in Kigali.
But also required to stay
At the same time, many of them indicate that it is almost impossible to do business in Rwanda if you are not located in the country. It seems it requires more time to build up trust and relations than in other African countries. Still, the rewards can be high, due to a strong photocopy effect of successful solutions.