Sugar board warns traders against arbitrary price hike

DAR ES SALAAM: THE government has said it will take legal measures against few traders hiking sugar prices arbitrarily on pretext of shortage of the commodity in the market because it hurts the citizens.

Sugar Board of Tanzania (SBT) Director General Professor Kenneth Bengesi issued a strong warning in Dar es Salam yesterday, saying there are some unscrupulous businesspeople who want to make big profits by raising the sugar price.

“There is no justification of hiking sugar prices only because there is shortage in the market,” Prof Bengesi said, insisting that stern measures will be instituted against the malpractice.

According to him, the indicative sugar prices remain between 2,800/- to 3,500/- depending on the geographical location.

He said also that there is no justification for price hike, either based on production fall or increased transport costs.

However, the sugar prices in most retail shops has currently surged above the indicative prices fluctuating between 3,800/- and 4,300/- per kilo.

He added that, “Although we are in a transition period towards having sufficient sugar supply in the country the government is not ready to see its citizens suffer for the benefit of few unscrupulous traders,”

It is from this background that the government recently issued sugar import permits and the first imported consignment is expected to arrive early next week to calm the price.

“The much-anticipated relief is expected to start arriving on Monday next week, with shipments continuing to come in phases to ensure nationwide distribution which will go along with the production from to sugar producers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Prof Bengesi emphasised the importance of local production for job creation and economic benefit across the industry, transport and agriculture sector.

He said two more sugar factories namely Lake Agro in Rufiji and Mufindi Paper Mills Sugar in Kasulu, Kigoma Region are expected to begin production in 2026 and 2027 to further stabilise domestic sugar production.

“The groundwork for establishment of new industries have begun where the first factory is being built by Lake Agro Company in Rufiji District, Coast region and the second factory is Mufindi Paper Mills Sugar which is being built in Kasulu District in Kigoma Region, both expected to start production in 2026 and 2027, respectively,” said Prof Bengesi.

He said the construction of the factories will bring the total number of factories that produce sugar in the country to eight.

The current sugar factories are Kagera Sugar Limited, Mtibwa Sugar Limited, Kilombero Sugar Company, Bagamoyo Sugar Company, Mkulazi Sugar Company and Tanganyika Sugar Plantation (TPC).

He said the government’s target of domestic sugar production last year was to attain 550,000 tonnes against the demand of 520,000 tonnes but actual production was 345,000 tonnes.

This year the government allowed the importation of 50,000 tonnes of sugar for the month of January and February as a means to address the sugar shortage in the country.

The rate of sugar production in the country dropped from November last year due to heavy rains that made it hard for the sugarcane to be harvested in the fields with ease.

The producers’ halted production after failing to access sugarcane from the farms after the heavy rains which damaged transport infrastructure.

However, Prof Bengesi said sugar factories have resumed production, although it is not as it was before El Nino because the weather is still unstable.

He said the government is striving to achieve self-sugar sufficiency that will stabilise the price of the product in the market and there will be no reason for imports.

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