TANZANIA – The governments of Tanzania and the Netherlands have recently sealed a pivotal partnership with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that aims to overhaul Tanzania’s horticultural sector by ushering in electronic certification processes for sanitary and phytosanitary procedures.

At the heart of this joint initiative is the transformation of the cumbersome and time-consuming paper-based certification process that currently underpins Tanzania’s horticultural trade.

Orchestrated by the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticide Authority (TPHPA) and the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), this collaboration will streamline procedures, propelling Tanzania’s burgeoning horticulture exports into the digital age.

Tanzania’s horticultural industry has surged over the past three decades, propelling the nation into a formidable player on the global stage. With a 2019 export value of USD 779 million, horticulture has become a critical contributor to foreign exchange earnings, supporting around 4.5 million farmers, including women and youth who constitute the majority.

From paper trails to digital highways

The existing process for obtaining phytosanitary certification relies heavily on paper documentation and meticulous inspections.

However, this traditional approach has resulted in inefficiencies and delays, often exacerbated by errors and adjustments during the export journey.

The bilateral relations between Tanzania and the Netherlands have paved the way for this innovative partnership.

Over 80 Dutch companies are operating within Tanzania’s agricultural sector, particularly in horticulture. This symbiotic relationship is set to elevate Tanzania’s trade practices by infusing them with the Netherlands’ expertise in digitalization and electronic certification.

Under the aegis of the MoU, the Netherlands will provide vital support, including capacity building, technical guidance, and the sharing of invaluable experiences in transitioning from paper to paperless certification processes.

Seminars, workshops, and a study tour to the Netherlands will facilitate knowledge exchange, ensuring that Tanzania’s regulatory framework aligns seamlessly with this digital evolution.

The anticipated impact of this collaboration is substantial. The transition from paper certificates to standardized electronic messages will dramatically expedite phytosanitary certifications, curtailing delays, and inefficiencies.

The agricultural trade will experience newfound efficiency, attracting investments, creating jobs, and elevating foreign earnings.

The journey towards seamless digital trade is not isolated to this bilateral agreement alone. The International Plant Protection Convention’s ePhyto Solution has made remarkable strides, with over three million certificates exchanged since its inception in 2017.

As this digital transformation sweeps across nations, it is poised to reshape global trade dynamics, fostering resilience, and agility in the face of challenges.

With India, Pakistan, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, and others joining this progressive movement, and even major players like China and the United Kingdom embarking on digital test exchanges, it’s evident that the future of international trade is being rewritten in the language of technology.

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