ZANZIBAR – A few days after unveiling a package of steps to boost horticulture growth in the Isles to satisfy domestic and export markets, Zanzibar President Dr. Hussein Mwinyi has banned exports of all food commodities as an immediate measure to curb shortages and price hikes.
According to the statement availed to the media by the Zanzibar Directorate of Presidential Communications Unit, the President imposed the ban and also instructed the traders to release food they have stored in warehouses to curb shortages and increase prices.
Last year, Deputy Minister for Investment, Industry, and Trade, Mr. Exaud Kigahe said the government would continue to monitor the situation before taking measures to ensure a reasonable supply of food and reduce the inflationary pressure.
Dr. Mwinyi said that Pemba was hit by a food shortage when traders choose to hoard food, which caused inconveniences, but after talking to traders, the situation has normalized.
He assured the citizen that his government will ensure that food prices continue to drop, calling upon traders to purchase enough stock of food as Muslims approach the Holy Month of Ramadan to curb shortages, especially flour, rice, sugar, and edible oil.
Mr. Kigahe had earlier mentioned that some of the food items have had price increases owing to production fall during the 2021/2022 farming season but others were influenced by difficulties in supply chains.
To further boost its blue economy, Zanzibar has set aside several Special Economic Zones (SEZ), Free Economic Zones (FEZ), and Export Processing Zones (EPZ).
These are strategic policy moves to attract investors since, other than sensitive areas like food and medicines, investors in the EPZ or SEZ are not required to get any extra licensing, making setting up a business much easier, faster, and more affordable.
On Feb. 1, 2023, during the Inauguration of the horticultural knowledge hub in Zanzibar, Dr. Mwinyi said his administration would improve key infrastructures, business-enabling environment, and extension services provided to spur the industry.
He stated: “Horticulture is one of the priority industries, owing to its great importance to our economy. Our priority is to create a conducive business environment, enhance productivity, facilitate access to markets, construct infrastructures for irrigation and markets, ease information access, research, and improve extension services provision.”
Taha built the hub through EU and Finland-FFD financial support. This is an addition to several projects, including horticultural crops collection centers, water wells for both irrigation and domestic consumption in Mpapa and Muwanda areas, as well as a cold room at Mpapa for preserving perishable horticultural crops.
Plans are also underway to create a horticulture logistic center with an ultra-modern cold storage facility for perishables destined for external markets at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.
The creation of a green belt will enable the country to have a special window for perishable export handling at key Zanzibar ports to fast-track the clearance of fresh products.