The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

East African countries tired of importing apples from South Africa

‘An apple a day keeps the doctor at bay,’ but residents of East African countries may need to wait for weeks before the succulent fruits get shipped all the way from South Africa.

And that is despite the fact that East African Community Members States, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, as well as Rwanda, Burundi and DR Congo have the perfect environment suitable for the cultivation of apples.

Why then, do East African Countries keep importing the ciders from the South of the continent?

According to the East African Business Council, the Region currently spends more than USD 500 million every year just for the importation of fresh apples, mostly from southern parts of the continent.

This year alone, South African Apple exports are anticipated to increase by 7 per cent, according to Eurofruit, mainly due to young orchards coming into production and the aforementioned conducive weather conditions.

In addition to apples being consumed fresh, the fruits shipped into East Africa are usually utilized in various processed products such as juice, alcoholic beverages, and snacks.

Which means the market is there, the demand escalating but the produce has to be transported from thousands of miles away, even though they can simply be grown in the precinct.

To address that, the East African Business Council (EABC), has joined forces with the Tamu-Tamu Tanzania (TTT) to organize a meeting which brings together farmers, growers, fruit dealers and local agricultural experts to find ways of establishing apple estates in the region.

So far farm specialists confirm that the East African soils and climate can be used to produce over 100,000 well-tended matured apples from just a single acre of land.

‘Investing in Apple Farming in East Africa,’ is the latest initiative by the two organizations, aimed at empowering Agri-actors with the necessary knowledge to capitalize on the significant market demand for apples in the region.

Tanzania has been growing apples in parts of the Southern Highlands as well as the Tanga region but on a low scale.

Both the EABC and TTT are now pioneering the move through the forthcoming inaugural virtual webinar meeting at the end of February 2024 to explore the cultivation of apple tree varieties that demonstrate resilience to the East African climate.

Participants will have the opportunity to gain insights from esteemed industry experts, exchange valuable experiences, and actively contribute to collective endeavours aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food industry in the East African Community (EAC) Region.

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