Toespraak van staatssecretaris van Dam bij de opening van de seminar ‘Tanzania-Dutch partnership'

Toespraak van staatssecretaris van Dam bij de opening van de seminar ‘Tanzania-Dutch partnership' op 16 juni 2016 in Tanzani. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for your warm welcome to this beautiful country. I haven’t seen a lot since I arrived last night. But I still treasure the memories of the incredible train journey I made through the south of your country a few years ago.

Tanzania’s varied landscape is stunning – from the coast, to the grasslands, to Africa’s largest continuous forest. Tourists, including Dutch ones, come here to experience your country’s natural beauty for themselves. But your agricultural and horticultural sectors have the potential to reach even greater heights than Mount Kilimanjaro and put down roots even deeper than the Ngorongoro Crater. The Netherlands is one of your biggest trading partners. And we want to help you make the most of this potential.

The Netherlands is impressed by Tanzania’s growth figures, which have averaged 7 per cent over the past few years. The horticultural sector alone has grown by more than 75 per cent since 2006. What’s more, Tanzania now produces agricultural and horticultural products for both its own market and for export. As impressive as these figures are, there’s still room for improvement. Two thirds of your labour force depends on agriculture. Yet the sector only accounts for thirty percent of GDP. The new government is well aware of this and wants to invest heavily in agriculture, energy and infrastructure.

Of course, there are also major challenges. Tanzania needs to increase production in order to feed its population, which has been growing at a rate of one million a year. At the same time, like any other country, it needs to tackle the impact this is having on the planet. That means producing twice as much with half the inputs. This isn’t simply a goal. It’s a necessity. Because we only have one Planet Earth, and its resources are finite. So we need to make the move from rain-fed to brain-fed agriculture.

That means producing nutritious crops that can be grown in a sustainable way. Take potatoes, for instance, which need far less water and fertiliser than maize and rice.

It also calls for modern farming technology, efficient production chains and effective market systems. And, most importantly, the right propagation material. And in the case of potatoes, that means the right seed potatoes.

The Netherlands is an expert at growing potatoes. Almost 60 per cent of all seed potatoes on the international market are sourced from the Netherlands. Our companies continue to expand. And they’re investing 15 per cent of their turnover in research and development.

So I’m pleased that my counterpart, Deputy Minister William Tate Olenasha  and I were able to reach an agreement on market access for top quality seed potato varieties from the Netherlands. That’s why I’m about to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on market access for propagation  material. In this memorandum we’ll also agree to help develop the potato industry in Tanzania. This means working together in the private sector, adapting propagation material to local conditions, training an inspectorate to carry out proper certification and promoting investment in machinery, storage and processing.  Our countries’ governments are making a clear commitment to the agri-food sector and to giving you and your businesses the support you need.

The southern highland region has proven to be an important corridor for commercial agriculture. And it still has enormous potential .The Netherlands would like to be a SAGCOT partner. The SAGCOT initiative focuses on private development, income creation and employment, and food security. The Netherlands is keen to contribute in these areas. At the same time, Dutch companies will also benefit from this new market and the opportunities it will bring for exporting machinery and propagation material.

I spent the last few days in Kenya, where we made similar agreements four years ago. Dutch potato companies are now growing seed potatoes that enable thousands of local farmers to grow four to five times as many potatoes. Even though we’ve only been working in Kenya for a few years, the lessons we’ve learned there could help us speed things up in Tanzania.

I’m proud that Dutch companies and organisations don’t only focus on boosting production. They also take great care to minimise any negative effects on the environment. In other words, they’re sustainable. And they care about the social aspects of doing business. After all, we’re guests here.

It’s in everyone’s interests to keep Tanzania strong, protect its beauty and help it grow horticultural products sustainably. That way, it can feed people in its own country and in the region.

I wish you all a productive seminar and the potato delegation a successful trade mission.

Thank you.