Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tanzania is self sufficient in food, says NFRA

PLANS by the government to sell its stock of 100,000 tonnes of food reserve in order to compensate a long standing debt it owe farmers residing in regions of Rukwa , Iringa and Ruvuma will not cause food insecurity in the country, a government official has said. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) Charles Walwa confirmed on Wednesday last week that, Tanzania has reserved enough food stock to enable sustain the impending shortages up to the coming harvesting season. He said in a telephone interview that the decision by the government to sell its stock has a good significance, for one thing he noted that, the out movement of stock from the national reserve helps stock from rotting and it also allows the purchase of newly harvested stock to take place. He said the government is very keen to ensure that food is available all the time pending on regular purchase orders made to keep the stock intact without experiencing any discrepancy. “We haven’t yet encountered with the problem of food shortages as we are periodically working alongside with the government closely to ensure food is available”, he said. The CEO was contacted for verification to ensure how safe would it be following the looming reports that speculated in the media that there is a food shortage in the country.   Last week the government issued an order to sell its 100,000 tonnes of maize from the NFRA in order to raise money to cover farmers’ debts that the government owes Sh. 24bn/- from the previous Sh. 130 bn/-  The government’s call was echoed in Parliament on Monday this week during questions and answers sessions when the deputy Minister for agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Godfrey Zambi was responding to a supplementary question by Kalambo legislator Josephat Kandeghe who wanted to know how the government has solved the long standing problem of farmers in these regions. He said the government has failed to pay farmers in time because funds for extra food were not allocated in the budget. Statistics from the Prime Minister’s office shows that since February this year the government has paid only Sh15 billion and borrowed another Sh15 billion from CRDB Bank. Up to January this year the debts that the government owed farmers were Sh89.2 billion equivalent to 175,606 tonnes of food. Up to March 11 this year the government through NFRA had bought 304,514 tonnes of food  including  295,900 tonnes of maize 4,674 tonnes of sorghum and 3,940 tonnes of rice. According to the statistics, until now the NFRA has 494,007 tonnes of maize, 5,180 tonnes of sorghum and 3,940 tonnes of rice.”

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