FOOD crop export permits will be issued online from July 1st, this year to ease export procedures claimed as cumbersome by exporters, the Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe said in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
He said the food crop export permits system would change from manual to online, following concerns over cumbersome procedures involved in obtaining the permits that led to queues of trucks transporting maize to Kenya parking at Holili and Namanga border posts.
“The permit issuing system will change. Instead of issuing the permits manually, we will begin to issue them online. All (food crops) export permits will be issued online from the 1st of July,” the minister clarified , when Lupembe Member of Parliament, Edwin Swale (CCM) was contributing to 2023/24 government budget.
The Lupembe lawmaker had bemoaned red tape in obtaining food crops’ export permits, noting that exporters were subjected to unnecessary hassles.
“There is red tape in obtaining (food crops) export permits. Exporters have to go through unnecessary hassles to obtain the permits,” said the legislator, adding that maize prices were declining because of the problems in exports.
Tanzania is one of major maize and rice exporters to Kenya and other East and Central African countries. However, food crops’ exporters are required to obtain export permits from the Ministry of Agriculture, except those which are regulated by boards and those which are perishables.
Media reports showed more than 200 trucks transporting maize to Kenya were stuck at Namanga and Holili borders after problems in issuance of the export permits early this month.
The problem had seen traders contending with huge losses, especially those who had hired trucks to ferry the grains into Kenya.
Later on, Tanzania and Kenya’s government agreed on all maize and other goods trucks that were held up in Namanga and Holili border posts to be granted entry into Kenya after a meeting between Investment, Industry, and Trade Minister Dr Ashatu Kijaji and her Kenyan counterpart Moses Kuria.
Through his twitter handle, the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Trade and Investment urged Kenyans importing food crops from Tanzania to apply for export permits.
“On the instructions of President William Ruto and his sister President Samia Suluhu Hassan, we have agreed that all maize and other food crops’ trucks that were held up in Namanga and Holili border posts will be granted entry from tonight,” posted Mr Kuria.
Meanwhile, Minister Bashe said the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has begun buying maize from farmers and was offering competitive price.
The Ministry of Agriculture announced to public yesterday that crop buying in this harvesting season would begin today and NFRA would buy 200,000 tonnes of maize and 200,000 tonnes of rice.
According to the announcement, NFRA will open centres at Songea for Ruvuma farmers, Makambako for Njombe and Iringa farmers, Songwe for Songwe and Mbeya farmers and Sumbawanga for Rukwa and Katavi farmers.
Other centres will be opened in Dodoma for Dodoma and Singida farmers, Arusha for Arusha and Manyara farmers and Shinyanga for Tabora and Kigoma farmers.
Rice will be bought at NFRA centres in Iringa, Morogoro, Songwe, Mbeya and Tabora regions, the announcement further shows.
Farmers could take their crops to the buying centres on their own, through their Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society (AMCOS) or agents, it said.