Rice traders decry cheap imports

DAR ES SALAAM: RICE traders in Dar es Salaam markets have raised concerns about the cheap imported rice because it drains away their profit.

The imported rice, commonly known as ‘VIP rice, is being sold at a lower price, starting from 2,000/-, compared to the locally produced rice sold at an average of 3,000/- in the market.

A rice trader at Tandale Market, Mr Selemani Abubakari told the `Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the price has remained relatively stable with a slight increase, similar to the experience in 2023. However, the presence of imported rice is causing them losses.

He mentioned that some retailers are not honest and tend to mix the imported ‘VIP rice’ with the local rice and sell it at a higher price.

“The reason for this moderate price is not due to bad business, but rather because the government allowed the importation of rice from outside the country.

A large quantity of cheap rice, known as VIP rice, was imported, which has kept the price of rice at a moderate level,” said Mr Abubakari.

Mr Abubakari emphasised that while the price of rice has remained moderate this season, it differs from previous years when some traders would stockpile rice and wait for the festive season or harvest season to make significant profits.

Mr Erick Urio, another rice trader at Tandale market, also highlighted how rice sellers mix the local rice with cheap imported rice to cater to buyers’ preference for lower or higher prices.

“Traders have become clever and cunning, blending local and imported cheap rice to remain competitive in the market. This practice is driven by consumer preferences for affordable options,” Mr Urio noted.

Referring to a 2022/2023 speech from the Ministry of Agriculture, rice production reached 1,708,369 tonnes, while the demand was 1,055,445 tonnes, with about 352,000 tonnes of rice exported.

Although rice production has shown satisfactory levels, the price of rice has displayed mixed trends with fluctuations.

According to the recent price report released by the Ministry of Investment and Trade, one sack of 100 kilogrammes of rice is sold at 330,000/-, with a 15,000/- increase (equivalent to 5.0 per cent) compared to December last year.

However, some rice traders have raised complaints about the cheap imported rice, as some retailers take advantage of mixing it with local rice and sell it at higher prices.

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