Morogoro: Tanzania and Norway Eye Greater Trade Collaboration

SAGCOT Centre had the honor of hosting the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania for a three-day visit across the pivotal regions of Iringa and Morogoro. This visit, spanning from March 13th to 15th, 2024, underscored the flourishing partnership between Tanzania and Norway in the realm of agricultural development. A conversation between the Morogoro Regional Commissioner, Hon. Adam Kighoma Malima, and Her Excellency Madam Tone Tinnes, the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania, took place in a tête-à-tête at the Regional Commissioner’s office in Morogoro, on March 15th, 2024. Excerpts follow.

Morogoro Regional Commissioner, Hon. Adam Kighoma Malima,

SAGCOT was established when I was a deputy minister for agriculture, food, and security. Convincing the political establishment of the concept was a big challenge, so we met with all these partners. I was personally responsible for bringing SAGCOT to the political forefront and for bringing partners on board. It was practically pushing and pushing – when I went to President Kikwete and he liked the ideas, that was our big win. I remember going to K town and speaking about SAGCOT and the World Economic Forum. I saw the idea take hold, and people started coming on board. Now, I look at the difference – it’s grown so well! I’m grateful to all these partners who have joined and continue to support us, making sure the dream is still alive. Back then, it was Kirombero, Morogoro, Njombe, and Sumbawanga. There was no Njombe region or Songwe region when we were doing SAGCOT. It was Morogoro, Iringa, Mbeya, and Rukwa.

There was a very big debate about where to start and why we should focus on the southern corridors. But I think the biggest accomplishment of SAGCOT is the agricultural transformation and the change in mindset – a cultural revolution in agriculture. SAGCOT has allowed us to move away from the traditional way of thinking about how to develop the agricultural sector. When I came to Morogoro as a regional commissioner, I was very happy to see that SAGCOT is still alive and thriving. Everything that was established in Morogoro has been adapted through the changes. It’s difficult when you’re starting something new, but after 10 years, you understand the challenges that exist and how to face them.

Norway has always been a reliable partner. Norway, Danida, Finida, Sida – we’ve had two Sidas for many years – and the Scandinavian partnership with Tanzania has consistently been a strong one.

In 1994, we faced a very difficult time in agriculture, and we were considering pulling out of farming in Tanzania. The minister of finance used to travel throughout Europe, talking to our partners and trying to explain what was happening. I remember then, speaking of the minister of finance (it’s been 30 years now), he mentioned these countries and said that we were having difficulties negotiating with them. “Until further notice,” those were internal friends – we have differences, but we always agreed on specific matters. The Scandinavian bloc was very important to Nyerere, very important to all the presidents. I don’t know why this relationship doesn’t get more recognition… and I have very close access to reach these people. So, when I have the privilege of hosting the Ambassador of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, or Finland, I know I’m hosting a historical event. Believe me, I know how much the relationship between Norway and Tanzania, particularly in the education sector, has developed into something much deeper.

I remember there was a time when Dodoma partners came together and wanted to establish avocado production in Tanzania. Norway wanted to be part of it by negotiating, and what we did was develop a plan that would benefit Tanzania. There are few people who can tell you this, but I can: the minister for finance heavily invested in farming. So, I know how deeply connected this relationship was.

Ms Tone Tinnes, the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania

To exchange more valued history of Tanzania and Norway, this year is very special because it marks 60 years of diplomatic relations. However, we know that the development cooperation started even before then. We had missionary schools, hospitals, and so many other places. As we said, we have development programs here for holistic development with different partners in Tanzania. I think what we see now is that Tanzania has transformed our engagement, so now our support for communication through the multiple geographical organizations focuses on specific activities where we see potential. We are more into private partnerships now. We have an MOU in Tanzania that was signed last December, and we have had an energy since we last for 50 years. And I also think that in agriculture, that’s where we are now. We see that the transformation is huge here in Tanzania, starting around 2010-2011, thinking about finding people who want legality and starting a business. So, we have discussed with Iringa to take care, and it will be a big part of SAGCOT. SAGCOT has been standing tall in Tanzania. We also have to link and discuss, the potential to increase trade between Tanzania and Norway. So, we see constant transformation in Tanzania

Morogoro Regional Commissioner, Hon. Adam Kighoma Malima:

“Agriculture has always been the lifestyle in Tanzania. In 2008, His Excellency the President appointed me as Deputy Minister for Finance. As a ‘problem ministry,’ I went from the groups of parliament into the ministry and had to shift from being a development economist and finance expert to start focusing on energy… And some years later, he sent me to agriculture. I remember going back home and asking myself, ‘What am I doing here?’ I stayed there for three years before going back into finance. To me, agriculture and food security were still my first love, and I actually loved it, simply because I gained a better understanding of my country and my people dealing with agriculture and food security. At first, I remember studying development economics, dividing among these beautiful people, and it was very difficult to live their life. That’s why I remember my life back then; it was so much with this affinity rate before the knowledge. He used to call you a ‘problem solver.’

I once said the best thing he loved most about it was that he didn’t have problems to begin with, before candidates, finance, and project direction. If you want to go into financing…because the levels of conditionality and sense, I can honestly tell you there are only a few people who understand how important Norway is to Tanzania now. It’s different because people can grow, people can understand the fact, people understand the history, and now the relationship has been prioritized and taken in different parts.

In Morogoro now, it’s been ten months since I came here as RC. My agenda in Morogoro is agriculture transformation, and I told the minister of Agricuture Hon Hussein Bashe we have been doing traditional agriculture for some time, but the demographics of what Tanzanians require have changed. We have to look at agriculture differently to ensure people support investment. We are 65 million now, and in 15 years, we will probably be 85 million plus because Tanzania has a very young demographic, and we are all thinking of getting married at the same time, so we will definitely have more children. What will happen is we are going to have more demands in agriculture, so my biggest challenge is agriculture transformation.

Morogoro is the biggest producer of sugar in Tanzania; 70% of the sugar comes from Morogoro. Morogoro is also the biggest producer of rice in Tanzania, but now we have products that we are bringing in from the agricultural transformation agenda.

When we are talking about agriculture in Tanzania, I used to think before going to the ministry that we were so advanced in agriculture. Then, when I went to the agriculture ministry, I was shocked technically; we were so far behind, not because we weren’t doing it but because we were thinking of agriculture in a way that was not going to contribute to its transformation.

I’m hoping that Norway’s participation, particularly in Morogoro, will contribute directly to the transformation and revolution of agriculture in Tanzania. We have traditional crops, but then we have new crops, hoping that Norway can contribute to the transformation of these new crops.

There are five crops that come to my mind because they have direct relationships with the transformation of society. Young people don’t want to engage in agriculture, but when it comes to those five crops, they don’t mind. We have clove spices; not only do we speak of these spices in relation to Zanzibar, but Morogoro also has the potential to produce ten times the economic spices produced in Zanzibar. We have chosen cloves because they have been in very high demand in the world market.

The number one producer of cloves in the world is Indonesia, which produces hundreds of thousands of tons, but ninety thousand tons are consumed in Indonesia, so they only have ten thousand tons for the world market. Then, other producers like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and Zanzibar are known, but Zanzibar alone produces about four thousand tons. Considering the land mass and how much they engage in clove production, Morogoro alone could easily produce much more within the next 7 years.

Cloves will sell for about $8.59 per kilo, which is the price farmers receive. So, on my poverty eradication agenda in Morogoro, I’m considering cultivating cloves, as well as cocoa. As long as we have children and romantics in the world, we need food. Morogoro is the second biggest producer of cocoa in Tanzania, behind Mbeya. We haven’t traditionally farmed cocoa; instead, we have cocoa trees, but now we’re targeting actual farming, like Ghana and Ivory Coast, where we have more land. So, cloves and cocoa… Let me give you some examples: if you bump into a cocoa tree, it will give you cocoa. Harvesting cocoa can yield two thousand Tanzanian shillings per kilo. This year, there will be introductions of cocoa as a major crop. Some who engaged in cocoa cultivation received an average of 10,000 shillings from 2 trees, which is five times the initial amount. At the end of this season, cocoa prices went up to 16,000 from 2 in two years, indicating significant profits for many.

When we talk about the young demographic who don’t want to engage in the difficult sector of agriculture but are interested in the romantic side of it, I refer to it as romantic because it’s easier and more attractive. It’s nearly akin to beauty. When I get youths to engage in agriculture, it means I’m diverting them from migrating to cities. For instance, a local who invests, primarily a first-time graduate, and secures a job in a city will earn seven hundred and fifty thousand shillings monthly, just about ten million shillings in a year. However, a good crop farm on a very small plot of one acre of cloves, spices, coffee, avocado, or palm trees can yield twenty million, depending on the crops. Palms are less and more expensive, yielding 10 million. I’ll be introducing more horticultural food and beverages into Morogoro’s economy. Ideally, I want Morogoro to be the number one agricultural center in the whole United States of East Africa.

I’ve mentioned five crops: cloves, spices, cocoa, palm, and avocados. Marketing is crucial because it’s not only about farming. These five crops will remain in demand as they are directly related to everyday human life. There’s a new discovery in avocados. While the focus has always been on avocados as a health product in consumption, it has been discovered that avocado oil is a valuable component in production costs. Avocado has specific varieties that people love, but as an industrial product for oil, softness is crucial, and there’s no post-harvest loss with oil production.

Morogoro has an area called Gairo, a mountainous region that is very cold, similar to Njombe, 15 kilometers from the main road to Dodoma on the left, in the mountains. What we’ve done is introduce avocado as an alternative crop. Now, we have seedling plants, and demand is high. My main focus now is on seed multiplication centers because demand for this new product is soaring. Even if I were to supply 2 million avocado seeds, I may still not exhaust the demand of the manufacturing system. This will lead to conquering new areas for these alternative crops. The reason I want these crops is due to the relationship they have with conservation. Morogoro was one of the greenest areas in Tanzania 50 years ago. My mother was very associated with Sokoine University, even before it was Sokoine University, and the focus was on agriculture and agro-research. So, I used to come to Morogoro when I was a kid, and what I remember is that Morogoro is green.

Ms Tone Tinnes, the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania

Looking at small-scale farmers, we will always find them in Tanzania. What we have observed is a significant competence among Tanzanians, as they bring in knowledge and capital, and share that knowledge with the rest of the community to enhance productivity. I believe this moment is truly beneficial, especially as we listen to individuals like the gentleman who was working on poultry farming, successfully increasing production. Additionally, you may have heard about students from Sokoine University learning about poultry farming and putting their knowledge into practice. It makes sense to integrate agriculture with diverse areas of expertise. I believe the challenge lies in taking action; scaling up, that is the true challenge.