SUGAR production in the country has increased by 16.8 per cent and boosted sugarcane farming scope, Deputy Minister for Agriculture Omar Mgumba said here yesterday.
Mr Mgumba said issuance of sugar import permits to domestic manufacturers has reduced the produce deficit from 130,000 to 38,000 tonnes.
The deputy minister told the National Assembly that the government decided to give import permits to the manufacturers specifically to protect the country’s industries and also stabilise the market price.
He was responding to a question by Saed Kubenea (Ubungo- Chadema) who claimed that the move to allow sugar manufacturers to import sugar is likely to kill the sugarcane farming, especially for out growers.
Mgumba said sugarcane outgrowers increased their production from 568,083 tonnes in 2017/18 to 708,460 tonnes in the 2018/19 farming season.
The out growers increased production led to higher revenues as well, with Kilombero-based outgrowers earning 68.7bn/- from 48.1bn/- during the periods under comparison.
The increased yields by sugarcane outgrowers contributed to increased sugar production from 307,431.26 to 359,219.25 tonnes under the period, said the deputy minister.
He told the house that the increase came at the time when the government had allowed manufacturers to import sugar to bridge the supply-demand gap, replacing the previous system of using traders.
Mr Mgumba said the government decided to task the manufacturers with importation of the deficit sugar to protect industries taking into account that the imports had lowest prices, leading to unfair market competition.
“Imported sugar is of low price because its production costs were lower than our domestic industries… foreign sugar manufacturers produce a number of byproducts, which give them a wide scope of fixing prices,” said Mr Mgumba.
He cited Mtibwa Sugar Company, which before the import permit was producing almost 16,000 tonnes but doubled production to 32,000 tonnes after getting the import permit.
The deputy minister said Tanzania Sugar Board carries out a demand survey annually to know the exact needs and capacity of the domestic industries before determining the import amount.
However, he said, a survey carried out in 2017/18 and 2018/19 established the stabilised local market in terms of sugar availability and prices