Dar es Salaam. The government waded into the sugar industry yesterday after announcing price caps for the sweetener.
Sugar prices have gone up in the country during the past three weeks, reaching between Sh3,500 and Sh4,500 across the country.
But the government believes the rise in prices has largely been caused by hoarders who keep the product in their warehouses to create an artificial shortage.
The minister for Agriculture, Mr Japhet Hasunga, who was in the company of his Industry and Trade counterpart, Mr Innocent Bashungwa, said retail sugar prices in Dar es Salaam will be pegged at Sh2,600 per kilogram.
Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Tanga, Morogoro, Coast will pay Sh2,700 for a kilogram of sugar.
However, residents of Kigoma, Katavi, Rukwa and Ruvuma will pay the highest amount to get a kilogram of the sweetener where it will retail at Sh3,200.
The price caps, according to Mr Hasunga, have been prepared in line with the Sugar Industry Act No. 26 of 2001 (Cap. 251).
“According to the law, the Agriculture minister has the power to announce indicative prices. The government has decided to set such prices after traders hiked haphazardly,” he said.
This comes just one day after Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa ordered district and regional commissioners to make sure that they conduct routine checks in markets and ensure that no one is raising prices during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
“I order regional and district commissioners to take stern action against any individual who will be selling sugar at Sh4,500. The government’s focus is on having members of the business community who will be providing service to Tanzanians,” the Premier said in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday.
Mr Hasunga said Tanzania’s sugar demand stands at 470,000 metric tonnes. He said Tanzania’s five sugar processing factories had the capacity of producing 378,000 tonnes during the 2019/20 season. He noted, however, that the capacity could not be reached due to a number of factors including breakdowns at some processing lines as well as heavy and prolonged rains which diluted sucrose levels in sugarcanes.
According to Mr Bashungwa, with some limiting factors, Kilombero, TPC Limited, Kagera, Mtibwa Estate and Manyara were only able to produce a total of 298,949 metric tonnes of sugar.
“Basing on the fact that production was below target, the government made a projection of sugar gap and issued permits to the manufacturers so that they can import the product. So far, about 10,710 tonnes of the imported sugar is already in the market,” said Mr Bashungwa.
He said between today and April 30, a total of 13,500 tonnes of imported sugar will be received in the country,” he said, stressing the sugar that is currently available in the market plus what will be imported will be enough to meet the country’s demand.