Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar’s export earnings weakened by 11.3 per cent to $197.4 million in 2018.
According to the Bank of Tanzania’s economic review for January, the drop is attributed to a decline in cloves whose earnings deteriorated to $10.4 million from $55.9 million in 2017.
The crop export volume declined owing to cyclical nature of the crop.
The clove is Zanzibar’s main major source of foreign exchange. Other exports are seaweed and fish.
The report indicates that the volume of exported cloves declined to 1,300 tonnes last year from 70,000 tonnes in 2017.
However, price per tonne increased to $8,033.5 last year from $7,934.9 in 2017.
However, the seaweed export earnings increased to $4.2 million from $2.7 million during the same period on account of increased volume of exports.
“Likewise, export earnings from fish and fish products increased due to the growing market for anchovies in the Great Lakes region, particular the Democratic Republic of Congo,” reads part of the report.
Zanzibar State Trading Corporation marketing director Salum Kibe said last year exports fell due to price fluctuations in the world market.
“There is a high season and a low season. During the high season the prices declined in the world market, forcing us not to export,” he said.
A researcher with the State University of Zanzibar, Salimu Msabaha, said the decline of clove was contributed by climate change as clove trees had been dying every year.
He said researchers were continuing with studies to give recommendations on how to revive the crop, which contributes a lot in the economy of Zanzibar.
People use clove oils, dried flower buds, leaves, and stems to make medicine. Clove is most commonly applied directly to the gums for toothache, pain control during dental work, and other dental-related issues.
Meanwhile, the value of imports of goods and services rose by 35.5 per cent from $214.3 million in the year ending December 2017, mainly due to increase in imports of goods.
All categories of goods imports increased last year, with consumer goods recording the highest growth.