SBT assures consumers of adequate sugar supply

What you need to know:

  • The country has been importing a significant amount of the sweetener between March and June every year in order to close the deficit as the sugar producing companies suspend production for maintenance

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania will import only half the amount of sugar it imported last year, according to the Sugar Board of Tanzania (SBT).

The country has been importing a significant amount of the sweetener between March and June every year in order to close the deficit as the sugar producing companies suspend production for maintenance.

The pause in production comes at a time when most parts of the country are expected to receive spring rains, something that would dilute the sucrose level in the sugarcane.

Speaking exclusively to The Citizen, the SBT director general, Prof Kenneth Bengesi said this season the country will import only 30,000 tonnes of sugar, which is half of the 60,000 tonnes approved for importation last season.

However, he said that of the approved amount, permitted companies managed to import only 51,000 tonnes.

“The country will continue reducing the deficit until 2025/26 when Tanzania is expected to have no existing sugar gap,” said Prof Bengesi.

He said that as usual, domestic sugar producers are the ones that have been permitted to import the sweetener, noting that every individual firm knows the shares allocated to them.

“We usually don’t disclose the quantity of shares allocated to individual companies. The public should only know that sugar importation will be made by local producers and that there will be no sugar crisis,” he said.

Prof Bengesi attributed the reduction in the deficit to the commencement of sugar production by the Bagamoyo Sugar Limited (BSL) and ongoing expansion projects undertaken by local producing companies.

Furthermore, he said that while the Bakhresa Sugar Limited (BSL) has added 18,000 tonnes of sugar produced in the country, the Moshi-based TPC Limited has increased 8,000 tonnes in the country’s production when the 2022 and 2023 productions are compared.

“Kagera Sugar Limited (KSL) has increased production by over 10,000 tonnes, while the Kilombero Sugar Company (KSC) has upped production from 126,000 tonnes to 134,000 tonnes,” he said.

Speaking on the KSL expansion project, which is expected to raise sugar production from 126,000 tonnes to 271,000 tonnes per year, Prof Bengesi said the project’s execution was in good shape and that the company is expected to start full production in June next year.

According to him, the Sh3 billion investment project made by the African Relief Organisation along the Rufiji River Basin is also expected to commence production in 2025/26.

“Mkulazi Sugar Factory (MSF) which is slated to produce 50,000 tonnes of sugar when it starts operations, is expected to start production in July this year,” he said.

He said Mufindi Paper Mills Limited (MPML), under Rai Sugar, which has invested $300 million for sugar production in Kasulu District, Kigoma Region, is expected to commence manufacturing in 2025/26.

He assured Tanzanians that when the amount of sugar in stock is added to the imports, the country will safely sail through the ongoing transition period.

While tabling the 2022/23 budget in Parliament last year, Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe said Tanzania produced 303,752 tonnes and 359,219 tonnes of sugar in 2017/18 and 2018/19, respectively.

Furthermore, he said production declined to 311,358 in 2019/20, before climbing to 367,718 tonnes and 370,000 tonnes in 2020/21 and 2021/22 respectively.

“By April 2022, sugar production had reached 370,000 tonnes, or 94 percent of the target of 375,000.”The government, through SBT, has continued with efforts to increase sugar production in order to realise the government’s target of producing 700,000 tonnes by 2025,” he said.

He said the ministry, in collaboration with sugar producers, is implementing a plan to increase production in the Kilombero, Kagera, Mtibwa, and TPC factories through farm expansion and installation of new sugarcane processing plants to increase efficiency.