Dar es Salaam – While most young people see agriculture as devoid of instant gains – and don’t take a second look – it’s a whole different story for Maurice Awiti (29), as he thinks that the sector offers many opportunities which have yet to be fully exploited.
As a result, the young man seriously engaged in agriculture as part of his life’s pursuit. Today, Mr. Awiti is a relatively good exporter of various spices from his own farms.
Young Awiti said the government was now on the right track to revive the agricultural sector, educating farmers on how to best cultivate commercially in terms of increased yield. There are currently 26 administrative regions in mainland Tanzania – and it is generally considered that it is high time that each region marked its cultures according to which cultures are most suited to which region.
It has not been easy for Mr. Awiti to achieve the success he already has. He had failed the journey of his youth several times – but that did not deter him from continuing the journey. As a result, he is now a good role model for other young people.
He owns 273 acres of arable land in the regions of Morogoro, Tanga and Iringa where he is active in the organic cultivation of spices under the “Organic Standardvbi-os EU”, focusing mainly on black pepper – the spice the most. most traded in the world – but also grows cardamoms, cloves, ginger, turmeric, vanilla and cinnamon, which it processes and sells mainly in the European market, as well as in neighboring Kenya and on the internal market.
Holder of a diploma in business management, Awiti is the founder and managing director of Mobo Group Ltd, which engages in different sectors comprising four subsidiaries, including agriculture, commerce, multimedia and catering.
“Fear and lack of confidence are among the challenges that prevent many young people from engaging in entrepreneurship”, pontificates Awiti. “We have to understand that a business takes time to grow – and, at a young age, we have all the benefits, energy, enthusiasm, motivation and creativity. We can tolerate risk and be more daring and resilient in serious efforts to achieve our goals, ”he said.
“Organic farming is the future. The government must start raising awareness of the importance of organic farming for the sustainability of a better future. The government should step in to help spice up producers, ”he told PME Digest.
Because farming was on his mind after graduating from college in 2013, he wasted no time as a budding entrepreneur. “I started growing beans in Kilindi in the Tanga region, where I invested all my savings in growing beans with high expectations of good returns. But things didn’t go as planned, as I only managed to harvest 5 bags of beans from a farm. that I expected to harvest at least 400 bags, ”Awiti recently told the Citizen via PME Digest.
“It was a disappointment that made me pause, because before that I owned a logistics company, I decided to stay in that company for the next three years – then I decided to wind up the company. and open a restaurant, ”he said.
“After initially failing in agriculture, I started a small food court in Dar es Salaam in 2016. It was a business that started small; but, in a very short time it started to work well, because I had to serve 300 to. 500 university students and neighboring communities. “
After gaining some capital in the convenience food business, he ventured into farming again – but this time it was different …
“My next step was to identify which crop I should start growing now, as my past experience in growing beans was not good. I had a lot to understand, and before taking a step, I wanted to identify the type of farming I wanted to do: What crop? What market? Why? How? Young Awiti conducted research because he wanted to cultivate a crop that could be transformed and branded.
“I call them ‘investment crops’ because, once you plant them, it takes up to four years to make your first harvest. will have a constant harvest for the next 10 years, after which the life of the plant ends. “
The production capacity of ginger and turmeric on his farm is around 30 tonnes per month, black pepper: 40 tonnes per month and cardamom: 30 tonnes per month, explains Mr. Awiti.
“But, my farms only started producing recently, and we are expecting the first commercial harvest next year … Mobo will manufacture finished products for the East African market. This year we have already exported 39 tons for testing. But, next year when we start our first commercial yields, we plan to export 280 to 350 tons of all our spices … We have already agreed with customers in Europe, where we have a competitive advantage because we have organic certification for our products, which makes them in high demand, ”he says – but adds thoughtfully that“ my partner looks after the market ”.
Choosing to farm was not a bad thing for Awiti, after all, as it enabled her to open businesses and create employment opportunities for young people. One of its companies, “Kibatari Tours & Safaris Ltd” – whose motto is “Lighting Africa” – not only promotes Tanzanian tourism, but also agriculture through tourism.
The other companies are Adventure Digital Ltd; Mobo Food Products Ltd and AFMCG, a fast growing consumer goods start-up. It is here that all of its spice products will be sold in the local market, mainly in supermarkets in small packages from January 2022.
“We have more than 55 people in direct employment in all of our entities, including twelve under specified employment contracts,” he said – adding that more employment opportunities will be created in the near future.
He said most of the farm funding came from the catering business, where he invested 60% of the monthly income in the purchase of farmland.
“In 2017, I started growing spices. A year later I had a foreign investor put in some capital – and so far we have been operating on intercrops where we harvest ginger and turmeric which helps us cover our costs of ‘exploitation. “, revealed Awiti.
“We mainly export to our European customers. From the start of this project, we identified Morogoro as our base region, and we aimed to make it the organic spice hub in mainland Tanzania in terms of production volumes, job creation, spice development. growth, income and government revenue.
The group of companies aims to expand its goal of being East Africa’s largest organic spice producers and producers by 2025, owning the entire value chain, from agriculture to processing, to packaging and logistics. All crop seedlings come from their farms. They generate raw materials according to organic standards, thus avoiding obtaining raw materials that do not come from organic farming.
“We provided training and knowledge on organic farming to neighboring farmers. We have registered 145 small farmers for the retroactive organic standards process so that their farms will be certified within the next two years, as the retroactive process takes three years, ”said Mr Awiti.
“From the moment I started this journey in agriculture, I saw a great connection between farmers, agents, sellers and buyers. But it has been a big obstacle in the agricultural sector – especially if you want to develop yourself, ”he lamented.
In addition, there are a billion challenges that begin with mobilizing sufficient seed capital and all the way through harvesting and handling / packaging to logistics and marketing throughout. of the value chain, he said.