Tanzania's rice farmers cry foul over imports

Pakistan rice imports into East African Community (EAC) through a trade deal swap with Kenya is causing problems in the marketing of locally grown rice in the region, hence the need for Council of Ministers to intervene.

Eastern African Farmers Federation Chief Executive Officer, Mr Stephen Muchiri, told East African Cooperation Minister, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, on Tuesday evening that unscrupulous commodity traders were blending the Pakistan imported rice with locally produced one which is facing tariff restrictions in the region.

“You know Kenya has a trade agreement with Pakistan whereby they buy tea while we import their rice. Unscrupulous businessmen are mixing the Pakistan rice with local rice in Kenya which has attracted a 75 per cent import duty in Uganda and Rwanda,” Mr Muchiri said.

During a meeting of EAFF senior officials led by its president, Mr Philip Kiriro, Muchiri told Dr Mwakyembe that the Pakistan rice has affected Kenyan rice farmers who cannot enjoy benefits of the EAC Trade Protocol because of problems with certificate of origin.

“I understand this problem has also affected rice farmers here, I hope that you as Chairman of the Council of Ministers can help us address this,” he pointed out saying EAFF is working with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in assisting farmers acquire skills, identify markets and observe quality and standards.

Currently, after investing heavily in rice production, local farmers produce over 1.2 million metric tons of the commodity against annual demand of less than one million tons.

In 2013, the government issued a permit to import 40,000 metric tons of rice following claims of shortages which was later blocked following an outcry by local producers who had stocks in their warehouses.

As a result, countries such as Uganda which import Tanzanian rice hiked the tariff to 75 per cent. One of the culprits, Kilombero Plantation Limited (KPL) which works in partnership with over 5,000 farmers has been struggling to find a market for the commodity.

Responding to the EAFF delegation’s request, Dr Mwakyembe said he will raise the matter with his peers during the next Council of Ministers meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 3.

“Much of this rice is smuggled into our region, we should find a solution against this,” said Dr Mwakyembe. He pointed out that EAC’s biggest trading prowess lies in agriculture produce which involves the majority of people in the region, hence the need to protect the market for such commodities.

Dr Mwakyembe invited EAFF officials to make their presentation before an EAC Council of Ministers which will thereafter deliberate on the matter.

EAFF is a non-political, non-profit and a democratic apex organisation of all Framers of Eastern Africa. It’s member in the country are Agriculture Council of Tanzania, Tanzania Farmers Federation and Muungano wa Vikundi vya Wakulima (Mviwata).
Source: Daily News, reported by Finnigan Wa Simbeye, from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Share on Google Plus

About Abduel Elinaza

This is a short description in the author block about the author. You edit it by entering text in the "Biographical Info" field in the user admin panel.