With increased demand for natural fibers on the global market, sisal has the potential to reclaim its position as Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner, the Tanzania Sisal Board (TSB) Acting Director General Saddy Kambona said.
Gold is now Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner after overtaking tourism which has been hit by the Covid-19 global pandemic.I
Speaking to The Business Wiz in an interview this week, Kambona said demand for sisal has increased globally because of its multiple use in various sector including construction and automotive.
He said in a bid to capitalize on the increased global demand, Tanzania has embarked on plans to triple sisal production from the current 40,000 tonnes produced annually to 12,000 tonnes per year as part of efforts to consolidate its self in the global sisal industry.
“In 1964, Tanzania emerged as the leading producer of sisal globally producing 230,000 tonnes but production fell drastically because of decrease in demand following the introduction of sisal alternatives like plastic ropes. We have drawn strategies to reclaim our position as the world’s largest sisal producer,” he said.
He noted that with due respect to United Nations guidelines on environmental sustainability, sisal has increasingly been used as a reinforcement agent in various sectors.
“Sisal has lately been used as a reinforcement agent especially in the manufacturing sector. Because of global environmental sustainability issues, it is now used as an alternative to wood and also used in various beauty products like wigs, as a country, we have no option but to increase production to tap into the opportunities created by the growing demand of sisal,” he said.
He urged youth to tap into sisal farming noting that the sector gives higher returns adding that TSB has started sensitizing small-scale out growers to increase their production capacities so as to embrace opportunities created by the global demand.
Commenting on the effect of Covid-19 and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, Kambona said the sector was not affected as such but there was a disruption in logistics in terms of transport logistics for sisal export.
Tanzania’s sisal sub-sector is the oldest commercially organized agricultural undertaking and one of the longest surviving agricultural industries in the country.
The sisal industry in Tanzania employs over 100,000 people, with a total production of 33,766 tonnes in 2018, down from about 40,000 tonnes in 2014.
Tanzania ranked second in the world for sisal production in 2018 only after Brazil with 80,042 tonnes.
Tanzania’s leading sisal growing regions are Tanga, Morogoro, Kilimanjaro, Coast, Lindi and Mtwara.