Arusha. Exporters of horticultural products have heaved a sigh of relief after the government exempted them from seeking food export permits every month.
In a letter dated November 13, 2017, the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Charles Tizeba, exempted exporters of perishable crops from the compulsory warrant, saving one of the country’s largest foreign currency earners from collapse.
“Perishable crops have been exempted from seeking the ministry’s food export permit,” Dr Tizeba wrote in the letter sent to all regional commissioners.
“We are very grateful to the government for being considerate, otherwise we could lose a substantial number of investors,” said Tanzania Horticultural Association (Taha) chief executive officer Jacqueline Mkindi.
“We are very grateful indeed to our government for being generous to us. This permit relief will translate into earnings,” said Mr Machel Tarimo, director of Home Veg Tanzania Ltd, one of the key horticultural crop exporters.
Mr Tarimo said exporting perishable crops needed logistic flexibility as one could miss out flight space at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) and secure it at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA), but if one declared KIA as an exit point during the permit application, then the permit would not be applicable to the JNIA.
“The food export permit waiver will boost perishable goods export as it will cater for instant orders,” said Mr Amani Temu, the general manager of TahaFresh Handling Ltd (TFHL), a third party logistics company specialising in horticultural products.
Mr Temu explained that the food export permit was a death warrant for horticulture because it was an obstacle even to exporters, who would ship samples of horticultural produce to new markets.
The exemption has resulted from painstaking talks between Taha and the government over the effects of the permit on the multi-million-dollar horticultural industry.
In an effort to guarantee food security, in July 2017, the government issued a circular, making food export permit compulsory for all food crops exporters, hitting hard perishable exporters.
The permit, though issued freely at the Ministry of Agriculture offices in Dodoma, Taha argued that the rigid document, intricate paper work involved and administrative burden jeopardised businesses in terms of time and money.
Taha built its case, saying the new policy had complicated logistics on exports of perishable crops and if wouldn’t be relaxed non-tariff barriers could frustrate the entire industry worth nearly $700 million annually.
“After all, horticultural crops for export are not highly consumed locally,” Taha Development chief manager Anthony Chamanga noted, adding that such crops had a slight effect on food security and so qualified for permit exemption.