Monday, August 31, 2015
Imported frozen fish dominates Magogoni International market in Dar
THE Magogoni International fish market in Dar es Salaam which initially was designed to promote small scale local fish traders is now dominated by cheap imported frozen fish popularly known as ‘Vibua Kamongo’ following low supply of the fish products currently facing the market, the Guardian can report. A spot check at the market on Wednesday this week can reveal that, the market is now faced with lower supply of fish products and instead it has been flooded with cheap imported frozen fish. Traders at the market have attributed the trend which has led to such a severe scarcity as mainly due to the sea weather change at this period following the prevailing wind seasons of the year calendar that swipes through during July and early September months respectively. Speaking in an exclusive interview, fishers say whenever they set up their fish nets on the sea during night hours are not settled properly and instead are waved away by water current an aspect that they end up catching small quantities which cannot accommodate the demand of consumers. Contacted for comments, the Fish Market Manager Solomon Mushi who admitted the prevailing situation at his market noted that, the situation is more aggravated by lack of storage facilities which have never been installed at the market compound despite promise by the government after the market was built in 2003 by help of Japanese government. He exclusively narrated that, the market is running short of fresh fish due to shortage of their supply as fishers sometimes are scared to catch more fish for fear of incurring losses in case are left overnight due to lack of storage facilities, and instead the imported frozen ones helps to subsidize the incurring shortages. Elaborating on the cheap imported fish, he said that are being imported mostly by Tanzanians of Arab and Asian origin and some few local traders from Japan, Yemen, Hong Kong, China and India. These have been licensed by the government through the ministry of Fisheries. Attributing to the rising trend, the Director in-charge of Fisheries development in the Ministry of Livestock Development and Fisheries Hosea Mbilinyi said that, the ministry issues import licenses to fish traders owing to the shortages of fish products currently produced in the country. He said on Thursday this week most Tanzanians love fresh fish caught from various waters in the country, but since their quantities is less to meet the required demand consumers have no choice except to rely on imported fish which to a certain advantage are sold at cheapest price rates.
When asked why the government issues imports licenses to fish traders he noted that, ‘there is no way to avoid importations owing to the incurring shortages of the fish products from waters in most parts of the country which do not cater for the need of consumers in most parts of the country. He noted that, with the latest statistics made available by the ministry shows that, the annual production of fish in the country stands at 375.1 million kilogrammes, out of which about 38.5 million kilogrammes were exported outside the country. He said there is a steady rate of exportation of fish products regardless of losses and destruction that occurs in the process. In view of this an average consumption of individual in the country stands at 7.4 kilogrammes per person per year. This is a very small quantity compared to what the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) suggests that the per capital fish consumption for every individual is 18 kilogrammes of fish product per year. “In order to bridge the existing gap, the government has allowed importation of fish products in large quantities in order to cater for the need that is arising now and then”, he said. Citing the fish production rate in the country, he noted that ‘latest statistics by the ministry shows that a total of 6.6 million kilogrammes of fish were imported into the country. This is equivalent to 1.9 per cent of the total fish being produced in national waters in the country. He elaborated reasons that made Tanzania to join World Trade Organization (WTO) and accepted the protocol introduced by the organization and the free trade area of the SADC regional states that one of the reasons is sensitize the existing trade ties between the countries. He also noted that, Tanzania must accept the importation whatsoever and has no way to avoid and in case it does. The countries signed in the WTO and SADC regional states will also be in a position to prevent Tanzania fish exports an aspect that is likely to ruin national economy. However, he has assured Tanzanians that the imported frozen fish are safer and fit for human consumption bearing the fact that, during the importation process, the bulk is normally inspected by specialized national bodies such as the Tanzania Food and Drug Authority (TFDA) at every entry points. Other bodies he mentioned are Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) and the National Atomic Agency whose roles together is to ensure the quality of fish that had been fished out in a safe and in a scientific manner to avoid suspicion to consumers. Other government bodies are TRA and security agencies.