Tanzania bans exporting unprocessed food to encourage industries, curb inflation
Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Monday banned the export of unprocessed food crops, in a bid to encourage investment in agro-processing industries.
Majaliwa announced the ban when speaking at this year’s Eid al-Fitr celebration, which at the national level was held in Moshi Municipality, northern Tanzania’s region of Kilimanjaro.
“From today, it’s strictly prohibited for a person to export food crops which are not added value (unprocessed). The Fifth-Phase government has been encouraging investors to invest in agro-processing industries.
“In this area, we want people to export processed food crops. And if it is maize, farmers/traders should export maize flour. This will create employment for our people,” said Majaliwa.
“I’m informed that there are people/traders who are trying to smuggle raw maize to neighboring countries. This is not acceptable at this time when we’re interested in seeing people venture into agro-processing,” he stressed.
The Tanzanian PM further said: “Anyone who can go against with this order, his/her maize will be seized and will be taken to the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).”
He also cited food security as one of the reasons for the government to ban the export of raw maize, the main staple food in Tanzania and the rest east and central African countries.
He called upon Tanzania’s security agencies and local government authorities to be vigilant in the border posts of Tarakea, Holili, Mwanga, Horohoro, Siha, Namanga and Sirari, which are notorious for smuggling.
Majaliwa also suggested the need for Tanzanian traders to take maize from where there is a bumper harvest to those areas with food shortage, citing northwestern Tanzania’s regions of Shinyanga and Geita.
Tanzania banned grain exports on Monday in a bid to stem rising local prices and rein in inflation, as well as boost the country’s nascent food processing industry. Food is the biggest driver of inflation in the East African nation, which exported more than 1.5 million tonnes of cereals to neighbours in 2016, the agriculture ministry has estimated.
Government officials have also previously warned that, with the trade largely unregulated, food exports were causing shortages in the local market and threatened to drive up the rate of inflation even further.
“From today onwards, it is strictly prohibited for anyone to export food crops,” Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said in a statement, adding the move aimed at “encouraging the construction of (food processing) industries in the country,” “Anyone who is arrested trying to smuggle food out of the country will have both his consignment and the vehicle used in the smuggling operation nationalised,” he added.
Tanzania’s inflation rate slowed to 6.1 percent year-on-year in May from 6.4 percent a month earlier, but remains higher than the country’s mid-term target of 5 percent. Despite producing around 3 million tonnes of surplus food in the 2015/16 harvest season, officials say unregulated exports have dwindled food reserves in a nation struggling with drought.
In February, the government said over 1 million Tanzanians were facing food shortages in the country of over 50 million.
In a report, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said drought in East Africa has sent prices of staples such as maize and sorghum soaring in the region, reaching record and near-record levels in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.
The body said crops in East Africa had been depleted by drought exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon that ended last year, and poor and erratic rainfall in recent months.