Govt, WFP to buy 200,000 tonnes of surplus maize

TANZANIA – The government has entered into contract with the World Food Programme (WFP) to buy at least 200,000 tonnes of maize.

 

Apart from the WFP, the government is in discussions with the neighbouring Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan to buy the country’s excess maize and rice.

During this year’s harvest season, Tanzania recorded over 500 million metric tonnes of maize up from 350 million tonnes recorded last year, representing a 123 percent increase.

Rice harvests also recorded at least 118 per cent increase in the same season.

“We have lot of surplus maize and rice which National Food Reserves Agency (NFRA) cannot afford buy,” Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives minister Christopher Chiza told The Guardian in exclusive interview recently.

“Our capacity is to buy 200,000 metric tonnes…but we are doing our best to ensure that we get a market for the maize and rice,” he said.

“To start with, WFP has agreed to buy at least 200,000 tonnes from NFRA in phases…they will start with 60,000 tonnes and then purchase more thereafter,” he explained.

“We commissioned NFRA to buy 200,000 tonnes at 500/- per kilo. This is the best price so far and the galas that we have cannot accommodate more than this,” he added.

“WFP will buy maize from NFRA and hence create space for the agency to buy more maize from the farmers,” he went on to explain.

“In fact, we have given the go ahead to NFRA to borrow at least 20bn/- from CRDB bank for buying the grains,” the official noted.

As for Kenya buying maize and rice from Tanzania, he said Kenya also had good harvests but with time they might still need addition maize and rice.

“We sealed a deal with South Sudan to allow our traders to sell maize and rice there,” Chiza said.

“Already 1000 tonnes have been sent partially as food relief and partially for sell,” he added.

“Also, our Embassy in Democratic Republic of Congo is discussing with the government there to allow our traders to sell there,” he said.

In mid-August this year, the government appealed to individual traders and agencies to buy and export the surplus maize following bumper harvests of the grain experienced in the Southern Highland regions but to date, even the private sector has remained reluctant to purchase the surplus.

Karimu Mtambo, Director of Food at the Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Ministry maintained that the government’s capacity to purchase the surplus maize was limited.

Elaborating, he said, that the authority has set maize purchase target for every region for each season and that if it happens, as is the case this season, that a particular region has harvested more than expected then the surplus is to be disposed of by other agencies and the private sector.

“We need to be assisted by individual traders or institutions to purchase the excess,” Mtambo insisted.

He said, in recognition of the dilemma, the government is assisting farmers search for markets to help them sell the surplus.

“Farmers from these regions are informed on the availability of grain markets outside and the government has also lifted the ban on exports,” he said.

Despite farmers disputing the fact, the official maintained that there is ready market for maize in Kenya, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the government has signed agreement with those countries for the purchase of the surplus.

“Doors are open for local traders to sell maize to neighbouring countries…all the documents are available at our offices, interested parties can visit us to for procedures,” he said.

October 7, 2014; http://www.ippmedia.com/frontend/index.php?l=72901

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