Darsh Industries Ltd (DIL), founded in Arusha, Tanzania in 1999, is the biggest tomato processor in Tanzania, with a 60% share of the market for purchased tomatoes in the Iringa area. Darsh are also well-known for being the first to introduce tomato paste to the Tanzanian market. In June 2013, Darsh in conjunction with Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) support, began the implementation of a USD 5.1 million project to increase their tomato processing capacity in Iringa with tomato paste concentrate and ketchup being the primary products of a newly established state-of-the-art tomato processing factory in Iringa rural in the southern highlands of Tanzania. In September 2014, Darsh Industries signed a grant agreement with the TradeMark East Africa (TRAC) Challenge Fund to provide complimentary support (7% of the total project value) to the largely AECF sponsored project to establish the Iringa Red Gold facility.
Darsh’s recently opened facility in Iringa has run 25 trial and production runs between January of this year and mid-March, which have resulted in the factory having processed over 240 MT by the 16th March 2016 of tomato concentrate from 1500MT of raw tomatoes purchased from local farmers. Local suppliers are grateful for their access to a reliable market. Darsh plans to run the tomato concentrate line for a total of 100 days each year when they achieve full working capacity; with additional tomato concentrate potentially exportable to neighbouring countries in the East African Community (EAC). The factory uses four types of tomatoes for their tomato concentrate which are Tanya, Roma, Onex and Mbena. These particular varieties of tomatoes offer the firmness, size, shape, colour, uniformity and taste the company seeks in a processing tomato.
The Darsh project to set up the tomato processing facility in Iringa faced major challenges with Darsh initially experiencing land acquisition and utility supply issues that took 2 years to resolve, after which an additional 2 years was taken up with the task of establishing the facility and the infrastructure that it depends on. Darsh ended up having to undertake the detailed land survey and establishment of the road access route-way to facility’s proposed site even though these were activities or investments that would normally be undertaken by local authorities working in conjunction with utilities providers to encourage inward investment.
With the land and access to primary utilities supplies secured by Darsh the work on constructing the processing facility began. Now completed, but with further expansion plans being implemented, Darsh’s processing plant has already had a positive impact on the lives of farmers in the wider Iringa area through the creation of an initial 40 new jobs and a growing demand for tomatoes in the wider community. Darsh expects to create a total of 200 jobs in Iringa, the increase derived from an expansion of operations as they open a ketchup production line alongside the tomato paste production line. With 6 new Red Gold branded trucks collecting locally grown tomatoes from their farmer suppliers, Darsh’s Red Gold brand is developing a good reputation in the community for its purchaser relations and tomato products.
Darsh anticipates the beginning of operations for the ketchup processing line in July-August 2016. This will in turn lead to the processing lines becoming a fully automated process, requiring new and current staff to be provided training as their work responsibilities change within the growing food product processing facility and an expanding supply-chain that reaches from farm to retail outlet. “A state-of-the-art factory in Iringa, working 24 hours a day processing local farm produce was a dream only a few years ago, but now it is a reality.” – Ravi Bhalerao Project Manager, Darsh Industries, Iringa