VEGETABLE traders have been urged to utilise the Middle-East market.

Speaking recently, World Vegetable Centre Regional Director Gabriel Rugalema said there was high demand for a variety of vegetables, including cabbage, spinach and chard in the transcontinental region in Afro-Eurasia.

“When farmers cultivate and sell vegetables, they increase their incomes because vegetables are high value crops,” he said. “This rise in personal incomes contributes to the national economy as well,” explained Mr Rugalema during a media field visit of the Arusha-based centre.

According to Mr Rugalema, the government has created an enabling environment for traders to export their produce overseas, urging them to utilise such an opportunity.

He mentioned South Africa, Kenya and Ghana as countries whose economies depended on exports, mainly vegetables.

“Tanzania has enough local experts to grow vegetables,” he said. “With greater government emphasis on horticulture, farmers can get seeds, inputs and the knowledge they need to produce vegetables and uplift their livelihoods.”

He added that accessing affordable quality seeds was one of the major challenges facing vegetable farmers.

The World Vegetable Centre holds Africa’s largest collection of vegetable seeds, with more than 3,000 samples-including more than 2,400 samples of nutritious traditional African vegetables such as amaranth, spider plant, Ethiopian kale and African eggplant.

The centre’s plant breeders use a variety of vegetable germplasm, as well as holdings in the main WorldVeg Genebank in Taiwan, with more than 63,000 samples.

In 2019, a total of 49,126 farmers received training in vegetable production through WorldVeg projects in the region and about 10,558 farmers received seed kits to plant home gardens.