Ministry seeks to hike import duty on edible oil

THE Ministry of Agriculture is seeking a hike edible oil import duty from the current 25 per cent to 35 per cent to protect local producers.

The Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe said in Parliament on Tuesday that they had already communicated with the Ministry of Finance and Planning to increase the tariff in the forthcoming financial year.

“We have contacted our colleagues from the Ministry of Finance. We have asked them to increase the tax on imported oil from 25 per cent to 35 per cent and to be charged VAT of 18 per cent,” said the minister when he was winding up his ministry’s budget proposal for the financial year 2023/24.

On wheat, the minister said that Tanzania imports five million tonnes of wheat per year, but in order to meet the market demands, at least 50,000 tonnes of seeds are required so that the farmers can be able to meet this demand.

He said the government has taken steps by producing more wheat seeds and in 2025/26 more seeds will be produced for farmers.

“We have written to all the wheat companies that they should sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government that will require them to buy wheat from domestic producers before considering importing the products,” he said.

The minister vowed before MPs that more efforts will be put in place to make sure that the country sufficiently produces wheat to meet domestic demands by among other initiative to revive the wheat farms in Manyara.

Tanzanians will not die for lack of wheat. We have done everything in our power to convince them to buy local wheat, we even involved them in accessing good seeds and they told us that the local wheat is of good quality

Last year, the government earmarked a total of 400,000 hectares of land for cultivation of wheat, the move which is aimed at ending shortage of the crop in the country.

The 400,000 hectares of land will be cultivated with wheat in wheat growing regions within three years beginning 2022.

Approximately 90 per cent of the wheat farming in Tanzania originates from the regions of Arusha, Mbeya, Iringa, Manyara and Kilimanjaro. Three of these areas are situated in the northern section of Tanzania – Manyara, Kilimanjaro and Arusha – and the others are all in the Southern Highlands.

In 2020, wheat production for Tanzania was 65,000, while the country produced 70,000 tonnes of wheat in 2021. Tanzania imports between 800,000 tonnes and 1 million tonnes of wheat annually.

Speaking to stakeholders of the crop from various regions that met in the capital Dodoma in July last year, Bashe said the ministry is in the process of distributing 50,000 tonnes of wheat seeds to farmers.

The ministry is also planning to spend at least 155bn/- in research and development to improve crop production. He said an additional 4bn/- is required to procure and supply improved wheat seeds among smallholder farmers.

Agriculture remains a cornerstone of the economy, providing 31 per cent to GDP and contributing 24.9 per cent of annual export earnings, in particular through the main export crops cashew, tobacco, sugar, coffee and cotton.

Tanzania records a continuous agricultural sector growth and is considered largely self-sufficient in its main staple crop maize. Cassava, paddy, sorghum and bananas are the second most widely grown staple crops by farmers.

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