Paul de Rooij, an investor in Tanzania’s spice sector, has an expansive knowledge of cinnamon.
‘The variety of cinnamon grown in Tanzania is called Cinamomum Zylanicum,’ Paul says. ‘It is also grown in Sri Lanka and in small quantities in Madagascar and Seychelles.’
Cinamomum Zylanicum or True Ceylon Cinnamon is a coveted aromatic variety of cinnamon, indigenous to Sri Lanka, but which grows well in Tanzania.
However, to unlock potential trade in this spice, the Tanzanian sector needed to adopt new techniques of handling and marketing it. Hailing from the Netherlands, Paul has his finger on the pulse of export opportunities for Tanzania.
‘If Tanzanian exporters can produce according to European Union market standards, they can get their market share,’ he says. ‘The demand for the product is huge.’
His Dutch-Tanzanian joint venture, formed in late 2019, is now helping to improve cinnamon exports from Tanzania.
It all began when International Trade Centre through the EU-EAC’s Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP), asked Paul to pass on his expertise and train Tanzanian spice producers and exporters. He travelled around the country and gained a deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges that lie in the Tanzanian spices sector.
The overall lack of technology and equipment for post-harvest processes struck him. He realized that was why Tanzanian cinnamon, despite the quality of the trees, struggled to meet the quality requirements to access other markets, such as the European Union.
Tanzanian spice exporter Edward Rukaka was part of the training sessions at which both exchanged ideas. Together they dreamt of pioneering new techniques to improve the quality of Tanzanian spices, making them globally renowned and exportable throughout the world.
This meeting was the turning point for Paul. He decided to invest in his ideas: He brought together his company BAPA Trading and Edward’s company, Companero Farmers, to form Trianon Investments. Together, Paul and Edward hope Trianon will have a positive impact on communities in Tanzania – and the spices industry as a whole.
Paul has already invested $100,000 to upgrade the infrastructure and equipment for processing spices and meeting immediate working capital needs. The company aims to achieve $800,000 in revenues in 2020.
The founders hope that Trianon will emerge as an international spice processing company and contribute to improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in Tanzania.