HEAVY rains and high demand for the locally processed cooking oil is believed to be the reason behind sharp price rise and scarcity in the country.
Speaking in Dodoma, Chairman of the Tanzania Sunflower Processors Association (TASUPA) Ringo Iringo, said the two factors have pushed cooking oil prices to the ceiling not only in the country, but also in the rest of East African countries.
“Most Tanzanians prefer using locally produced cooking oil than imported products… this has to a large extent pushed the price high,” said Mr Iringo.
Mr Iringo said that heavy rainfall in last year’s season were one of the reasons why yields were low in the season and forced oil prices to rise.
The chairman said in many areas where they depend on sunflower cultivation, many did not harvest or harvest below average, thus stimulating the product scarce that resulted to scrambling in the market.
“At least 15 areas including Kongwa, Kiteto, Arusha and Iringa that have the big number of sunflower and sesame’s plantations faced high deluge. In some areas; plantations were washed by floods, which prompted to poor harvest, thus making the product scarce and many industries have halted oil production,” he explained.
Mr Iringo explained that the local market for local processed cooking oils grew higher in recent years due to improved quality of the local refineries across the country.
“In the old days, people trusted much imported cooking oils, that opinion has frozen and lately people go for locally processed oil and that has raised the demand; especially from sunflowers cooking oil,” he added.
However, the chairman noted that in some cases, industrialization also orchestrated the demand of the cooking oil since those industries use it (cooking oil) as raw materials for productions of other products.
Mr Iringo said the move traumatized the sector since the production of the cooking oil was only targeting home-based consumption.
The chairman said the country’s oil demand is 570,000 tonnes while the volume produced recently is 205,000 tonnes per annum, while the current industrial capacity is 700,000 tonnes per annum but due to poor quality and quantity of the sunflowers seed push them back in attaining the maximum production.
He asked the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) and other stakeholder’s interventions to help farmers to attain the maximum production, which will solve the upheaval for the good future of the cooking oil supply.