DODOMA: PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has assured the public that the current sugar shortage facing the country is temporary and will ease soon, following swift measures taken by the government to address the deficit.
The steps taken by the government include allowing importation of 100,000 tonnes of the sweetener and meeting with sugar factory owners to see how the commodity can be obtained when the rains stop.
Majaliwa made the assurance here yesterday while responding to a question by Nyasa MP, Stella Manyanya (CCM) during the Prime Minister’s Questions Time (PMQs) in Parliament on Thursday.
4In her question Manyanya demanded the government statement over the shortage of the sweetener as Christians will soon start observing a 40-day period of fasting and prayer (Quadragesima) as well the Holy Month of Ramadan for Muslims.
The lawmaker had concern that the current sugar shortage in the country has led to price hike, raising complaints from the public.
“It is true that the country is facing shortage of sugar, and this has been caused by the ongoing heavy rains which have made it difficult for sugar factories to harvest sugarcane, the main raw material from the farms, thus affecting the production,” Majaliwa said.
The Premier said the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture has been taking various measured to address the deficit and the situation will soon stabilise so that people can continue getting access to the commodity.
He said the government has issued permits to various traders including sugar producers to import more than 100,000 tonnes of the sweetener noting that the process is underway, adding that part of the consignment has already started arriving in the country.
“This new development continue stabilising the situation.” The PM further noted that the government is also meeting factory owners to see the best way of getting the commodity when the rains stop.
He insisted that the shortage is temporary and will soon be addressed, assuring that the country will have sufficient supply in the near future as Holy Month of Ramadan approaches.
Recently, Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said that the ongoing rains have affected the entire system of harvesting sugarcane, with sugar content in the raw material dropping by 25 per cent, thus affecting the production of the commodity.
He explained that Kilombero Sugar Company Limited with capacity of producing 700 tonnes per day now produces only 250 tonnes while TPC Sugar Factory which had the capacity to produce 450 tonnes has dropped production to 180 tonnes.
TPC is also facing technical fault in its electricity system, leading to suspension of operations. Kagera Sugar, which has the capacity to produce 500 tonnes per day, currently produces an average of between 200 and 300 tonnes per day while Mtibwa Sugar that normally produces 450 tonnes now produces 120 tonnes.
He further said that Bagamoyo Sugar, which had the capacity to produce 160 tonnes per day, produces 70 tonnes currently while the state owned Mbigiri Sugar factory/ Mkulazi which commenced production recently with the capacity to produce 250 tonnes now produces 46 tonnes only.
“When you make assessment, sugar demand in the country stands at 1,500 tonnes per day, and the deficit has been caused by the drop in production which has made all factories to produce 1000 tonnes per day,” Mr Bashe was quoted as saying.
He further explained that the country’s sugar production capacity has continued to increase in three consecutive years which resulted into reduction of sugar gap to 30,000 tonnes by last year.
“We were expecting to cover the gap because we were expecting to reach 500,000 tonnes come next April simply because we had already reached 460,000 tonnes last year,” he added.
Minister Bashe said that the government has been taking various measures to address the shortage of the commodity including granting permit to import 100,000 tonnes.
Mr Bashe said before the shortage factory price was between 2,240/- and 2,270/- while retail price was between 2700/- and 3,000/-, noting that to date the prices have gone up to 4,000/- per kilogramme.
“We believe that once these 100,000 tonnes are imported, they will help to stabilise the prices of the sweetener and its availability. We have projected that by mid-February this year, the distribution of sugar in the country will have stabilised,” Mr Bashe noted.