Rice import permits beckon relief for Christian, Muslim believers

THE government’s move to issue permits to import 90,000 tonnes of rice to reduce the price will give huge relief to Christian and Muslim believers who are set to start fasting period this week and next month, respectively.

Christians are expected to start 40 days of fasting and abstinence tomorrow while Muslims will commence the holy month of Ramadan next month.

Either the government is conducting an analysis to find out how to enable the sale of subsidised corn flour in the cities of the country.

The Minister of Investment, Industry and Trade, Dr Ashatu Kijaji said recently that if business people buy subsidised corn, grind it and sell flour at a subsidised price and while there is rice sold at a subsidized price, the price of most food items will decrease.

The government expects that the prices of all products that are widely used during this period will not increase. Dr Kijaji warned traders who will use the fasting period of the holy month of Ramadan and Lent to arbitrarily increase the prices of products including food.

“The government has been holding meetings with sugar producers and agreed that there is enough sugar in the country so they do not expect to see the price of sugar rise,” she said.

She added, “The price of wheat flour has shown a decrease within these two months, so we do not expect to see it rise again, especially during this fasting period as the government continues to take solid measures to have enough of this product in our country. Likewise, there are areas in our country that have started to harvest beans so the price of this important product will not rise again,” Dr Kijaji insisted.

She said permits have been issued to import 90,000 tonnes of rice into the country which will start to be sold at the indicative price by the government in March so we expect the price of this product to drop within the next two weeks.

“Let me continue to assure all Tanzanians that, the government will continue to take decisive action on all areas that seem to contribute to the increase in inflation so that we continue to remain on the inflation spectrum we agreed upon within the countries of the East Africa Community and the countries of the Southern African Development Community,” said Dr Kijaji.

Dr Kijaji said the government expects the rice price to go down from 3,000/- to 2,500/- a kilogramme thus cooling down food inflationary pressure.

She said the rice consignment should be sold before the harvesting season in April to protect local farmers. Describing the price of rice for February 2023, Dr Kijaji said it is between 2,700/- and 3,500/- per kilogramme and that the price has not changed compared to the price of January 2023.

According to Dr Kijaji, sugar for February is between 2,700/- and 3,000/- per kilogramme and the price has shown resilience compared to January 2023. Dr Kijaji mentioned that the regions with the lowest prices are Iringa, Simiyu and Tabora and the highest prices are in the regions of Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Manyara.

The price of beans for February is between 2,300 and 4,000/-per kilogramme. The lower price has dropped compared to the price in January 2023 which was 2,400/- per kilogramme.

The lowest price is found in Songwe Region and the highest price is found in Shinyanga Region. She said that in some areas of the country, farmers have started to harvest beans, so the government does not expect to see the price rise again.

Minister said the price of corn flour for February is between 1,500/- and 2,100/- per kilogramme and that it has not changed compared to January 2023.

According to the minister, the lowest prices are in Geita and Manyara regions while the highest prices are in Kigoma and Mara regions. In terms of wheat flour, the Minister said the February price is between 2,000/- and 2,500/- per kg while the high price of wheat flour has dropped compared to the price of January 2023 which was 3,200/- per kg.

The lowest price is in many places in the country and the highest price is in the Songwe region.

The price of sunflower edible oil for February is between 4,750/- and 7,800/- per litre. Similarly, the price of Palm oil is between 4,500 and 7,250/- per litre.

The price of cooking oil has shown resilience compared to January 2023. The lowest price of sunflower is in Manyara, Morogoro and Singida regions and the highest price is in Lindi, Coast, Mtwara and Mara regions.

The price of round potatoes for February is between 1,000/- and 1,750/- per kg. The lowest price has increased compared to the price in January 2023 which was 800/- per kg, the highest price has dropped compared to the price in January 2023 which was 2,000/-.

The lowest price is in Songwe, Tanga and Mbeya regions and the highest price is in Manyara, Mara and Ruvuma regions. The Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said recently that the government will not close the borders or prevent farmers from selling their crops abroad because doing so is pushing the farmer back and impoverishing them.

The University of Dar es Salaam Economic Expert, Prof Delphin Rwegasira says that farmers in the country have now found a market for products abroad, so this may have led to a domestic shortage which is why the government has decided to issue permits to import rice from abroad.

Prof Rwegasira says the concept of food security should be based on the country’s ability to get food from wherever it is needed and not prevent local food from being sold abroad.

According to the Ministry of Investment, Industry and Trade report on the production of food crops in the country 2021/22, the preliminary assessment of the state of food production in the season of 2020/2021 and the availability of food for the year 2021/2022 showed that the state of food was expected to reach the amount of 18,425,250 tonnes of grain compared to 18,196,733 tonnes in the 2019/2020 grain season where the production increased by 228,517 tonnes equal to 1.3 per cent.

For the 2020/2021 production season, the production of grain crops was expected to reach 10,639,990 tonnes. The production is less than 229,606 tonnes, equal to 2.1 per cent compared to the production of 10,869,596 tonnes for the 2019/2020 season.

In addition, for noncereal crops, the production was expected to reach 7,785,260 tonnes compared to the production of 7,327,137 tonnes in the 2019/2020 season, which is an increase of 458,123 tonnes equal to 6.2 per cent. Corn production was expected to reach 6,908,318 tonnes compared to 6,711,002 tonnes of production in the 2019/2020 season.

Rice production was expected to reach 2,629,519 tonnes compared to 3,038,080/- tonnes for the 2019/2020 season.

Maize production increased by 197,316 tonnes and rice decreased by 408,561 tonnes equal to 3.0 per cent and 13.5 per cent.

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