Monday, September 16, 2013

Sugar production is still low in the country, says Nagu

SUGAR industries in the country continue to deteriorate in terms of production capacity despite insistence by government officials who have been appealing producers to take initiatives in order to save the industry from collapsing. It has been learnt. The Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Investment and Empowerment, Dr. Mary Nagu made the observation last week in Dar es Salaam and attributed the fact is mainly due to lower investments in sugar industry. Dr. Nagu made the call during her inspection tour of the three major storage facilities which preserves both domestic and imported sugar bulks in the city. In the visit, Dr. Nagu was accompanied by the Deputy Minister for Agriculture and Cooperatives Adam Malima. The two ministers jointly toured the storage facilities with a view to see for themselves the quantity of sugar currently in stock in the country. The facilities are those which belongs to Alneem Enterprises Ltd located at Tabata suburb adjacent to NIDA Textiles Ltd. Others were storage facilities of the Mohammed Enterprises Ltd that formerly belonged to Dar es Salaam based regional trading company Ltd (RTC) located along Nyerere Road and those belonged to Kilombero sugar company at Kurasini port area. She said, Tanzania produces 300,000 tones of sugar which is not enough compared to the current consumption of 450,000 tones required to cater for the need of both domestic and industrial purposes. This means that Tanzania has to import sugar for large amount of money. In view of the currently available production statistics, the minister has noted that, there is a growing deficit of 150,000 tones to be locally produced to fill the gap, although this is filled by the imported sugar a thing which she said promotes sugar farmers of other countries from which the bulk is ordered. The two ministers met with the sugar importers and told them about the government’s intention as insisted by President Jakaya Kikwete to increase sugar production in the country and see that, the selling prices are affordable to ordinary people in the country. However, she said that, since the government allowed the importation of sugar in the country a year ago, the price has stabilized and currently the retail price of a kilogram of sugar is fetched at between Sh. 1,600 and 1,800 in most Dar es Salaam shops. Despite of government’s efforts, however, the recent survey in some parts of the city shows that there are some areas which the precious commodity is sold at a high price rate of between Sh. 2,000 and Sh. 2,500 respectively. During the visit, however, the two ministers were impressed to see an extensive bulk of the imported sugar which had flocked in their storage facilities an aspect which indicates that the locally produced sugar is out of stock. 

Tanzania's Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Investment and Empowerment, Dr. Mary Nagu

In view of the prevailing situation, Dr. Nagu has called on major sugar importers in the country to invest more in the production activity of this commodity to curb with amid current shortage.  She also assured the importers that, the government is planning to bring them together and sit down on the table as stakeholders to deliberate on the possible ways and see what should be done in order to get a permanent solution which will ensure the availability of sugar and getting it more affordable to consumers in the country. One area that Dr. Nagu pointed out is the direct investment targeting in sugar cane estates to get raw materials for sugar processing in local industries which she noted could be a sole means to end the current scarcity and the move will promote the growth of local industries. Dr. Nagu is on the view of the fact that, as long as the government continues to import more sugar, the move actually keeps on promoting sugarcane growers of other countries and their industries, a factor which can also be done here. Commenting reasons as to why production of sugar is deteriorating in local industries, the Deputy Minister Adam Malima said in an exclusive interview that, the situation sometimes depend on the economies of scale, which he said is very low compared to other countries such as Kenya which he said consumed sugar three times than Tanzania  “With a per capita consumption of sugar together with an anticipated rapid population increase, the national consumption is expected to increase substantially requiring an increased import of sugar unless the domestic capacity is augmented significantly” he said. He further noted that, presently Tanzania need to produce 600,000 tones of sugar per year at local level in order to make the availability of the commodity in its constant supply countrywide. Commenting on the issue, the Executrices Secretary of the Tanzania Sugar Association, Ambassador Fadhili Mbaga said that, sugar is sold at a cheap price at the global market because many countries subsidizes the commodity unlike the case in Tanzania whereby the government does not subsidize its farmers an aspect that the cost of production is high. He has however, asked the government to impose heavy tax on such imported commodities just like what the Mozambican do which together with other things it has removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on sugar now for 8 years concurrently.

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