Govt offers maize farmers best prices

THE Speaker of Parliament, Dr Tulia Ackson, has told Members of Parliament to advise maize farmers in their areas to sell their crops to the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA), which provides better than prevailing market prices.

She issued the call in the National Assembly on Thursday after the Minister for Agriculture, Mr Hussein Bashe, said NFRA buys maize at 800/- per kilogramme in regional centres and 600/- per kilogrammes in peripheral areas.

“Farmers should be given government answers that maize are bought at 800/- per kilogramme,” she said following a suggestion by a Member of Parliament for Mbozi, George Mwenisongole (CCM) that the House suspend activities to discuss plummeting maize prices due to what he claimed to be restrictions in issuing of food crop export permits.

The Mbozi legislator said maize prices had gone down to 15,000/- per a 100kg bag.

Agriculture Minister Bashe said the government had provided 320bn/- to NFRA for buying maize and rice as the crop buying season began on Thursday.

He said the indicative price for maize was 800/- per kilogramme, which translates to 80,000/- per bag in Sumbawanga, Mbeya, Njombe and 600/- per kilogramme in peripheral areas which translates to 60,000/- per bag.

The minister said the government has not banned maize export but requires exporters to obtain export permits, TIN numbers and food safety and quality certificates.

“No trader who complied with the procedures has been denied an export permit. Over 200,000 permits were issued yesterday. What we banned is for foreign traders to go into the villages and buy straight from farmers,” he said.

He said foreign traders were allowed to buy grains through locally registered companies.

They could also open and register a local office in Tanzania that will deal with their exports, and present a tax clearance certificate before they are allowed to export the grain, he said.

The minister said on Tuesday that food crop export permits will be issued online from July 1st, this year, to ease export procedures after exporters claimed that the existing process was cumbersome.

He said the food crop export permits system would change from manual to online following concerns over cumbersome procedures involved in obtaining the permits.

“The permit issuing system will change. Instead of issuing the permits manually, we will begin to issue them online. All (food crop) export permits will be issued online from July 1st this year,” the minister announced when Lupembe Member of Parliament, Edwin Swale (CCM) was contributing to the 2023/24 government budget.

The Lupembe lawmaker had bemoaned red tape in obtaining food export permits and said exporters were subjected to unnecessary hassles.

“There is red tape in obtaining (food crop) export permits. Exporters have to go through unnecessary hassles to obtain the permits,” said the legislator, noting 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 crop exporters are required to obtain food crop export permits from the Ministry of Agriculture except those which are regulated by boards and those which are perishables.

Minister Bashe said also that the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has begun buying maize from farmers and was offering competitive prices.

The Ministry of Agriculture announced on Tuesday that crop buying this harvesting season kicked off yesterday 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 Manyoni 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.

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