Call for full exploitation of East Africas rice market

Posted on : Monday , 21st September 2015

MEMBERS of the private sector and the government have been advised to consult each other and see how they can solve challenges that impede Tanzania to take advantage of the readily rice market in the East African countries.
A Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) consultant, Dr Halima Noor, told a news conference during a high level policy dialogue for rice value chain stakeholders that Tanzania was not utilising her potential in producing and selling rice in East Africa.

"Something should be done now in this important rice sub sector," she said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend. Tasked by TPSF, Dr Noor presented a paper titled 'A Policy Scoping Study on Improving Rice Exports to the EAC region by the Tanzania private sector.'

The meeting organised by TPSF and Trade Mark East Africa was attended by members of the private and public sector from within and EA countries.

The study found out that several challenges face Tanzanian business persons such as 75 per cent tariff when exporting rice to Uganda and Rwanda which is contrary to EAC laws.

The rice which is subject to 75 per cent tariff is the one imported from outside the region mainly from Asia.

However, some EA countries claim that Tanzanian businessmen sell to them rice which is illegally mixed with the one imported from Asia. The meeting recommended setting up of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) offices and verification machines in all border areas to strengthen quality control measures and curb smuggling.

Another challenge discussed at the meeting was cumbersome process rice traders go through in case they want to export rice. The meeting recommended having a one stop centre where all licence matters will be dealt with.

As part of solution, officials from Rwanda Grains and Cereals Corporation Ltd, Rice Council of Tanzania and East African Grain Council (EAGC) agreed to work on coming up with a certificate of origin which will show if rice exported is really from Tanzania.

Speaking earlier, the Chairperson of TPSF, Dr Reginald Mengi, said Tanzania, under the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) and Big Results Now (BRN) is targeting the production of a million tons of rice for the export.

He said there was a need to improve Tanzania's capacity along the rice value chain in processing, packaging, warehousing and handling, transportation and export. Dr Mengi said there was a need to brand rice from Tanzania but cautioned that branding will have to reflect quality.

"Rice is farmer's gold and Tanzanite," he noted. Permanent Secretary in the East African Ministry, Ms Joyce Mapunjo assured the meeting that the government would work on all challenges pointed out and the meeting's deliberations.

Tanzania leads in rice production in Eastern Africa. An estimated 18 per cent of farming households grow rice and the economic activity in the rice sector contributes to 2.66 per cent of the GDP.

According to the Rice Council of Tanzania, the country currently produces about 1.40 million tonnes of rice; grown mainly by small scale farmers and mostly under low-input, rainfed conditions.


Source : Daily News




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