Tanzania imposes bans on soybeans, maize seeds from Malawi

DODOMA: IN a decisive move to protect its agricultural sector, the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticide Authority (TPHPA) has imposed import bans on soybeans and maize seeds from Malawi.

The bans come in the wake of comprehensive Pest Risk Analyses conducted by the TPHPA, revealing potential threats to Tanzania’s crops.

TPHPA Director General Professor Joseph Ndunguru said in a statement on December 18 and 19 that TPHPA’s Pest Risk Analysis identified the presence of the Tobacco Ringspot Virus (TRSV) in Malawi that poses significant risk to soybean production in Tanzania.

TRSV is a highly contagious plant disease known to cause substantial damage to soybean crops, resulting in yield reductions and economic losses of up to 100 per cent for farmers.

In response to the threat, the TPHPA has implemented an immediate import ban on soybeans and their products from Malawi until further notice.

Prof Nduguru said the ban extends to transit shipments and aims to safeguard the rapidly growing soybean subsector in Tanzania, protecting local farmers from potential economic losses and preventing the introduction and spread of the virus.

Simultaneously, the ongoing Pest Risk Analysis revealed concerns related to the introduction of Genetically Modified (GM) maize seeds from Malawi.

He further said Tanzania, in its interim bio-safety regulation, permits only small-scale confined GMO trials, which do not extend to commercial production.

“To ensure compliance with these regulations, the TPHPA has instituted a temporary ban on all maize seed imports from Malawi, including transit shipments until the risk associated with GMOs is clarified,” Prof Nduguru said.

The restriction includes an immediate suspension of the processing, evaluation of applications, and issuance of phytosanitary import clearances for maize seeds.

The move underscores Tanzania’s commitment to maintaining a non-GMO status in its agricultural practices.

TPHPA is the National Plant Protection Organization established under the Ministry of Agriculture by the Plant Health Act No.4 of 2020.

TPHPA is responsible for the control of pesticides, phytosanitary measures, importation and use of plants and plant products, and prevention of the introduction and spread of pests.

Soybean production in Tanzania has experienced significant growth in recent years due to increased awareness of healthy diets for human consumption and as an ingredient for livestock feed formulation.

Over the past decade, soybean production in Tanzania has steadily risen from 8,100 metric Metric Tonne (MT) in 2012 to 25,900 metric MT in 2022.

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