...Lifting of June 2017 ban offers great relief to needy EAC states
MAIZE export ban has been lifted, thanks to bumper harvests, which the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) can hardly drain.
The lifting of the June 2017 ban has come as a blessing to some needy East African countries and Tanzanian peasants who have been complaining over unreliable markets for their produce.
Agriculture Minister Dr Charles Tizeba, debating the 2018 fiscal budget draft and proposed National Development Plan in the National Assembly here yesterday, said the move follows an assessment on the current food stock against NFRA budget for maize purchase.
“We have buffer maize harvests, which we cannot afford buying exhaustively...we have opened up doors for exports to allow farmers to proceed with the next farming circle, smoothly,” said the minister.
He however noted that NFRA was still buying the food crop in Njombe, Ruvuma, Rukwa and Songwe regions, which have produced in plentiful.
Dr Tizeba ordered Regional and District Commissioners to allow smooth exports of the produce, warning against re- strictive haul of maize consignments from one region or district to another.
Members of Parliament had been complaining over bumper maize harvests, amid shortage of markets, arguing that the produce could not be consumed internally, with some dishonest traders using unofficial routes to smuggle the food.
In June this year, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa imposed the ban on maize exports, saying the government was still collecting data on food adequacy in the country before lifting the export ban.
The premier said by then the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan had officially requested for maize supplies.
“This shows that food situation in the region is not good and exports continue unabated, we may soon experience serious shortages across the country,” Mr Majaliwa was quoted as saying and urging people willing to export maize to freely do so but subject to securing approval from the agriculture ministry.
On tobacco marketing, Dr Tizeba said he had given the Tanzania Tobacco Board until today afternoon to submit to him a detailed report on the scope of purchase, amount and prices offered by firms that have shown interest to buy the cash crop.
He said the government is as well looking for other foreign markets to assure farmers of reliable market during harvesting season.
Moreover, he said, from now on the agriculture inputs including manure and urea will be available throughout the year unlike the current trend of availing them only during farming season.
Livestock and Fisheries Minister Luhaga Mpina said the government has confiscated 10,000 herds of cattle from Rwanda and Uganda, saying they will be auctioned soon.
“We have to learn to respect each other’s boundaries, rules and regulations that govern the livestock sector...about 30 per cent of feeding land for cattle is serving animals from the neighbouring countries, this should never continue unchecked,” said Mr Mpina.
He said Tanzania has good diplomatic relations with her neighbouring countries but ruled out felony bond. “We have auctioned 1,325 cattle and burnt 6,400 illegally imported chickens from Kenya to control diseases as per poultry importation ban of 2016 following the bird flu outbreak,” said the minister.
He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation had alerted all cattle owners in the region before the exercise. Some trespassers withdrew their livestock from the reserve areas and the defiant had their cattle confiscated.