An ambitious project is underway to establish more sugar plants in Tanzania in the next four years to meet growing demand of the product in the country, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has said.
The country consumes about 420,000 tonnes of raw sugar a year and the government is considering more investments to meet rising demand, which is forecast to double by 2030.
Prime Minister Majaliwa told the National Assembly during the impromptu question and answer session yesterday that the government has already earmarked strategic areas where the mega investments will be established.
“We have held talks with sugar manufacturers in the country, who have promised to expand their investments within the next four years in anticipation of an upsurge in demand,” he told the House.
Towards that end, land for sugarcane farming expansion has been identified while concerned factories have promised to establish more refiners to absorb increased cane supply.
Some of the strategic areas that have been identified for cane farming expansion include Rufiji Valley, Kigoma, Kilosa, Ngerengere and Bagamoyo. However, the Prime Minister said that the Bagamoyo project was unlikely to go ahead as it borders Saadani Game Reserve, implementation of which will affect the area’s ecosystem.
He further said that the government will continue with efforts to attract more investors, both local and foreign, to establish sugar factories in the country. According to government projections, the government projects the country’s growers and processors will produce 420,000 tonnes of sugar in the next four years up from the current 320,000, which is a deficit of 100,000 tonnes.
“This is why 70,000 tonnes of sugar was recently imported to address the shortage of the commodity.” added Mr. Majaliwa assuring the House that the move to import sugar will not affect local producers, who are expected to resume production in July this year.
He further said that the process to import sugar was cleared by the sugar board to solve existing shortage caused by local traders who are hoarding sugar.
The sugar shortage in recent months has pushed prices of the commodity upwards, forcing President John Magufuli to order local traders hoarding sugar to distribute them to the market or face legal action.
The president insisted that the government’s decision to ban importation of sugar was meant to protect local production of the sweetener and boost increased processing capacity and higher cane supply from the local firms’ plantations and independent farmers. He also said that the government discovered that some importers were misusing the opportunity and causing chaos in sugar industry.
Legislators have brought forth concerns over whether the government had followed proper procedures in accordance with Sugar Industry Act of 2001 to import 70,000 tonnes of sugar to offset the shortage. They also sought to know who gave licences to import sugar and whether the importation will not affect local producers.
Out of the 70,000 tonnes ordered, 11,957 tonnes have already arrived in the country, ready for distribution countrywide. The sugar will be distributed thus: 2,000 tonnes of the commodity will be distributed to northern zone regions, 3,000 tonnes to Lake Zone regions, 2,000 tonnes to southern zone regions, 2,000 tonnes to southern highland regions, and 2,000 tonnes to central zone regions. Another batch of 24,000 tonnes was expected to arrive in the country soon.