Tanzanian consumers assured of sustained supply amidst sugar production glitches (2024)

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ByLouis Kolumbia

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  • Heavy rainfall that impounded different regions since November 2023 adversely affected domestic sugar production, forcing the government to issue import permits

Dar es Salaam. As sugar manufacturing companies routinely suspend production to pave the way for stabilisation of sucrose levels in the sugarcane, the government has assured Tanzanians of a sustained supply of the sweetener.

The assurance comes following the importation of 82.5 percent of the 155,000 permitted metric tonnes as well as the stabilisation of wholesale and retail prices in most parts of the country.

Heavy rainfall that impounded different regions since November 2023 adversely affected domestic sugar production, forcing the government to issue import permits.


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Heavy rainfall has also wreaked havoc in neighbouring countries, but routinely, Tanzania has been suspending sugar production between March and May annually.

The suspension is done to pave the way for increased sugar levels in sugarcane used for sugar manufacture due to the excessive dilution caused by heavy rainfall.

Speaking to The Citizen in an exclusive interview, the Sugar Board of Tanzania (SBT) director-general, Prof Kenneth Bengesi, said sugar imports were reviewed upwards from 100,000 to 155,000 tonnes.

“A total of 128,000 metric tonnes have been imported out of the 155,000 metric tonnes permitted, with the remaining 27,000 tonnes being at different stages of the shipment,” he said.

Prof Bengesi said the government was expected to convene a meeting later this month to determine whether the amount of imported sugar would meet the country’s demands throughout the production suspension.

He called on Tanzanians to relax, assuring the country of sufficient sugar stocks that would be sold at sustainable prices.

“On average, the sweetener is sold at an average price of between Sh2,800 and Sh3,200 per kilogramme in most regions. However, the price remains at Sh3,500 per kilo in some peripheral regions like Kigoma and Ruvuma,” he said.

“The price of sugar isn’t supposed to exceed Sh3,000 per kilogramme in most parts of the country except peripheral regions, where the ceiling was forecast to be Sh3,200 per kilo,” he added.

He said price stabilisation is supported by the significant decline in wholesale prices, which currently range between Sh120,000 and Sh125,000 for a 50-kilogramme bag, which is equivalent to Sh2,480 to Sh2,500 per kilo.

According to him, strengthened wholesale prices indicated that retail prices would further decline for the benefit of the public, noting that the government has put in place appropriate systems for citizens to get the product at sustainable prices.

The Bakhresa Group spokesperson, Mr Hussein Sufian, supported the government’s statement, saying a significant amount of sugar imported into the country would enable the country to meet demands at the time of production suspension.

Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe announced in January 2024 the government’s decision to double sugar imports to 100,000 tonnes and unsympathetically warned against hoarding.

“Kilombero Sugar, for example, is producing only 250 metric tonnes daily compared to its 700-tonne capacity. This translates to a 500-tonne daily deficit against the nation’s 1,500-tonne demand,” he illustrated the tense situation at that time.

Warning factory owners and distributors against hoarding, he said, “Any attempt to hoard sugar for artificial price hikes will result in immediate withdrawal of their immunity and legal action.”

He urged regional and district authorities to monitor the situation and report any irregularities.

He assured Tanzanians that when the amount of sugar in stock is added to the imports, the country will safely sail through the ongoing transition period.

Tabling the 2022/23 budget in Parliament last year, Mr Bashe said Tanzania produced 303,752 tonnes and 359,219 tonnes of sugar in 2017/18 and 2018/19, respectively.

Furthermore, he said production declined to 311,358 in 2019/20 before climbing to 367,718 tonnes and 370,000 tonnes in 2020/21 and 2021/22, respectively. “By April 2022, sugar production had reached 370,000 tonnes, or 94 percent of the target of 375,000.”

“The government, through SBT, has continued with efforts to increase sugar production to realise the country’s target to produce 700,000 tonnes by 2025,” he said.

He said the ministry, in collaboration with sugar producers, is implementing a plan to increase production in the Kilombero, Kagera, Mtibwa, and TPC factories through farm expansion and the installation of new sugarcane processing plants to increase efficiency.

Tanzanian consumers assured of sustained supply amidst sugar production glitches (2024)
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