Upgrading cinnamon in Tanzania

26 juin 2020
ITC News
The challenge

Few countries can grow and produce high-quality ‘true cinnamon’ but the United Republic of Tanzania is one. However, its small cinnamon-producing sector is underpowered by a lack of organization and know-how, resulting in low export volumes of low-value cinnamon chips.

ITC worked with the Tanzanian Spices Association (TASPA) to revamp its operations, organize knowledge transfer, update growing and harvesting techniques and meet buyers as part of its Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP). This regional development initiative aims to contribute to the economic growth of the East African Community (EAC) countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda.

The quality of Tanzanian spices is intrinsically high. However, there is a lack of technology for post-harvest processes, and Tanzanian spices have struggled to meet the quality requirements to access markets such as the European Union.

The solution

In 2019, MARKUP trained 1,000 Tanzanian cinnamon farmers to produce a better quality of cinnamon quills that can stand the test of the international market. Since Sri Lanka has mastered the art of cinnamon cultivation to command premium prices on world markets, ITC invited the chairman of the Sri Lankan cinnamon training academy to share lessons on improving quality with Tanzanian farmers.

With new management TASPA − the only institution of its kind in the country − was able to draw on its local network of cinnamon farmers and hold training courses across the country.

The programme’s success rested on understanding the needs of the targeted cinnamon farmers. Most of the training was conducted on farms to replicate field processes, and since the buyers help organize the training, the farmers were incentivized.

The results

TASPA’s membership increased ten-fold, while exports of Tanzanian cinnamon increased by 350%, reaching an export value of $700,000 in 2019 compared to $200,000 in 2018.

The quality of cinnamon exported by the farmers – now in the form of quills -- is estimated at four times the market value compared to the cinnamon chips that they previously produced. Total production of cinnamon in Tanzania more than doubled in 2019.

Tanzanian cinnamon now has a brand with a quality stamp recognized across the market.

Thanks to MARKUP, TASPA is now part of the European Spices Association, an invaluable network that will see Tanzanian spices gain even further traction on the international market.

The future

Plans are in place to continue to leverage the project’s success, including by expanding crop coverage to cardamom and obtaining ISO 22000 certification. Another aim is to promote organic spice farming in Tanzania, and TASPA will lead the development of a geographical indication for Tanzanian spices.