Nane Nane fair: Agricultural mission to Southern Tanzania

The first week of August is all about agriculture in Tanzania. From August 1st onwards, agricultural fairs are organized all over the country, culminating in the national holiday Nane Nane on August 8th. A team from the Netherlands Embassy flew to the southern town of Mbeya to explore opportunities for agriculture in the region and to solidify the progress of the Potato Center.

Each year on Nane Nane (meaning eight eight day), the important contribution of farmers to the Tanzanian economy is celebrated. In eight cities, including Mbeya, agricultural fairs are organized. Hereto, companies, farmers, regional and local officials are drawn to see the latest developments and opportunities in the world of agriculture.

Deputy Head of Mission Lianne Houben in conversation with the Regional Commissioners of Njombe and Mbeya, Minister of State at the President’s Office Honorary Mr. George Simbachawene and CEO of the SAGCOT Centre Ltd. Geoffrey Kirenga.

Inclusive growth in SAGCOT

This year, a team from the Embassy led by the Deputy Head of Mission Lianne Houben, our new Agricultural Counselor Ingrid Korving and Agricultural Officer Theresia Mcha travelled to Mbeya from August 5 till 8. They were accompanied by two consultants, Frank Wijnands and Sicko de Vries from Wageningen University & Research, who are involved in the establishment and management of the Center for Development of the Potato Industry in Tanzania.

Mbeya is a town in the Southern Highlands, which is part of the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) region, an area the size of Italy. SAGCOT is a multi-stakeholder public-private partnership (PPP), initiated by the government of Tanzania to accomplish rapid and sustainable growth in the Southern Highlands’ agricultural sector. The goal is to set up inclusive agribusinesses that will benefit small-scale farmers, improve food security, reduce rural poverty and ensure environmental sustainability.

It is in Mbeya that the Center for Development of the Potato Industry in Tanzania will be established. This is a center of expertise set up by nine Dutch companies and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which will help develop the potato sector in the SAGCOT region.

The trade mission was conducted with several goals in mind. Most importantly, it was explored whether the event was suitable for the Netherlands to be a participant in the fair next year. The event is a viable opportunity for Holland Branding and for Dutch companies to showcase their technologies and products.

Moreover, the mission was a good introduction for Ingrid Korving to the embassy’s key partners in the region, as well as an opportunity for the embassy to increase the visibility of the available expertise.

The team spend the four days of the mission productively. They extensively visited the Nane Nane fair, frequenting the SAGCOT pavilion, a possible place for a stand next year. The representation of both the public and private sector in this pavilion could be a great platform for the embassy.

The Potato Center was also addressed: the already accomplished progress and next steps were discussed with the secretariat of SAGCOT, in order to institutionalize it as swiftly as possible. A lovely dinner with Mr. Geoffrey Kirenga, CEO of the SAGCOT Centre Ltd., further reinforced the tight partnership.

In addition, achieving visibility was accomplished. Lianne Houben had a meeting with the Minister of State at the President’s Office, Honorary Mr. George Simbachawene and with the Regional Commissioner, in which she explained the embassy’s strategy ‘from aid to trade’.

Deputy Head of Mission Lianne Houben and new Agricultural Counselor Ingrid Korving on their visit to the farms.

Farmers with icecaps

Perhaps the most important people of Nane Nane were also paid a visit by the team: the farmers themselves, who grow coffee, macadamia nuts, avocadoes and potatoes. The farmers presented their crops, explained about the challenges they face and learned more about the quality of beneficial Dutch products. They were thanked for their time with a Dutch ice cap, since especially for Tanzanian standards, it can get quite cold in the Southern Highlands!

Overall, the trade mission was a great success and the fair was very well visited, both by regional and local officials as well as entire families. “We managed to get a thorough impression of the Nane Nane fair,” Theresia Mcha said. “We see viable opportunities for the embassy to occupy a stand next year and promote Holland Branding and Dutch companies.”

If you have any questions about agriculture or horticulture in Tanzania, please send an email to

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