FOR decades Zanzibar Island has been one of the leading producers of high quality cloves. Once, the semi-autonomous archipelago was the world’s undisputed largest producer of the spicy crop.
Zanzibar, thus, enjoyed a near-monopoly in the world market, producing about 75 per cent of world supply of cloves. Statistics show that over 24,000 tons of cloves used to be produced annually until into the late 1990s when production began to dwindle.
The last two decades has, unfortunately, witnessed a nosedive in clove production in both Islands of Unguja and Pemba. Currently only between 4,500 and 5,600 tonnes are produced annually.
No wonder Zanzibar now lags far behind Indonesia and Madagascar for the production of the flavoured and aromatic spice, used in cigarettes, perfume, cooking and herbal medicine.
The decline of clove production in Zanzibar is caused by a number of factors, including aging of clove trees, fluctuation of clove price in the world market, and overall lack of feasible plans to increase production.
But smuggling of cloves and seedlings to and from Zanzibar threatens to compromise the quality of cloves produced in the Isles. In an effort to increase the production and exportation of high quality cloves, the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has been developing an intellectual property and branding strategy for Zanzibar cloves.
The branding project is aimed at giving Zanzibar cloves unique name and image in the world market. But recently, the government went a step further in its efforts to protect the production cloves and curb illegal trading of crop in and outside Zanzibar when the Minister for Finance and Planning tabled a Bill to amend the Clove Development Act No 2 of 2014.
The Bill, which sailed through in the House of Representatives last week, entails maximum punishments to cloves smugglers. The passing of the Bill, which awaits President’s assent, increases government’s control and monitoring of clove agriculture and trade.
The amendment saw new sections; 19A, 19B, 19C, 26A and 26B added to the Clove Development Act, 2014, which deal with the prohibition of importation of cloves to Zanzibar, disclosure of anti-smuggling information and fraudulent misinformation.
Section 19A of the Act prohibits smuggling of cloves. The section states that it is an offence for a person to smuggle cloves, clove seedlings, clove stems or allied products from one area to another within or outside Zanzibar.
According to the new bill, anyone who will attempt or conspire to smuggle cloves, clove seedlings, clove stems or allied products will have also committed an offense.
A person found guilty of committing such offences and convicted under this section shall be liable to imprisonment for term of not less seven years and not exceeding fifteen years.
Any person who participates in any activity relating to the unlawful exportation or carriage of cloves, clove seedlings, clove stems or allied products from one area to another within or outside Zanzibar is also committing an offense under the new Act.
Whoever will be found guilty of attempting, conspiring or participating in the smuggling of cloves, clove seedlings, clove stems or allied products faces a jail term ranging from five to ten years and while serving his punishment, he should plant fifty thousand clove seedlings.
Section 19B orders for forfeiture of cloves, clove seedlings, clove stems and allied products, vehicle, vessel, aircraft, or equipment used in the commission of the offence. In another major amendment, Section 19C, attempts to protect locally produced cloves by prohibiting the importation of cloves for trading in Zanzibar.
It is prohibited for any person to import cloves for trading in Zanzibar, reads the Article, adding that a person who contravenes those provisions commits an offense and upon conviction, the cloves shall be forfeited.
“Where a person is convicted for an offense under this section, the Court shall, in addition to the punishment imposed, make an order for the payment by that person to the government of same amount earned to the proceed received of the sale of the forfeited imported cloves,” the section reads.
The new legislation also seeks to check corrupt individuals who aid smugglers by disclosing vital information on anti-smuggling operation to a smuggler or any other person who is not responsible for the operation.
“Whoever found guilty under this section is liable to a fine of not less than 5m/- or imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years or both,” reads Section 26A of the Act.
Section 26B imposes punishment to individuals who are tasked with anti-smuggling operations and law enforcement, but decide to collude with smugglers by fraudulently misinforming a relevant authority.
“When a person who is involved in an anti-smuggling operation or who is responsible for law enforcement, fraudulently misinforms a relevant authority is guilty of an offence and upon conviction is liable to a fine of not less than 7m/- or improvement for a term of not less than seven years or both,” the section reads.
A new section 27, which seeks to address offences committed by institutions, has also been introduced to the Principal Act. It takes to task a person who, at the time of committing an offense served as a director or an officer responsible for the affairs of the institution.
He/she will be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be punished accordingly. And the institution in question will be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall pay a fine of not less than 10m/-.