Sugar board: Recurrent shortages to end by 2025

What you need to know:

  • Newly appointed Sugar Board of Tanzania chairman Filbert Mponzi says the country will be self-sufficient in three years as efforts are underway to plug the 60,000-tonne annual deficit

Moshi. Tanzania will be self-sufficient in sugar by 2025 as efforts are underway to plug the 60,000 tonne deficit.

Production of the sweetener is currently estimated to be 380,000 tonnes a year against the 440,000 tonne demand.

“The shortages of the commodity will soon be history,” affirmed the new chairman of Sugar Board of Tanzania (SBT), Mr Filbert Mponzi.

Mr Mponzi, who was appointed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to become the new SBT chairman in August this year, said efforts were underway to increase local production through luring new investments and improved production.

He revealed the plans when members of the SBT board of directors toured the TPC Limited sugar plant in Moshi at the weekend.

Other measures being taken to increase output were what he described as “further improvement of the sector’s business environment”.

When he inaugurated the SBT board last month, the Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe tasked it to ensure the country becomes self-sufficient in sugar by 2025.

Mr Mponzi asserted that the development of the local sugar economy was one of the government’s agricultural priorities.

The focus, he pointed out, was to meet the growing demand of the commodity from the domestic market.

“With the support of all stakeholders and projects to increase the capacity like the one to expand sugarcane farms here at the TPC, the scarcity of sugar in the country will soon end,” he explained.

SBT director general Prof Kenneth Bengesi affirmed that the sugar deficit in the country currently stands at 60,000 tonnes.

“Balancing arithmetically by 2025 averagely requires increasing the sector’s annual output by 20,000 tonnes,” he told the board members during the familiarization visit to the Moshi-based plant.

He said already the country has all it takes to deliver the monumental national sugar goal and attain the ambitious supply of the commodity.

These include prevailing supportive policies, growing local production capacity, which SBT data show that it expanded by nearly 17 percent in six years from 2013.

Despite this growth, domestic demand persistently continues to outstrip supply.

The recently sworn in board members also rooted for Tanzania becoming a net exporter of sugar in the near future, saying the country has the potential “to even dictate terms of the market in the region”.

“This is our number one goal and the top priority of the government, which is realizable if we put in place supportive policies and address inherent issues handicapping growth of the sector,” he noted.

Prof Bengesi said recent trends in the industry point to remarkable progress being made in that regard with the government now tasking the new SBT board to accomplish the national sugar self-sufficiency mission by 2025.

“As regulators, we are required to oversee the advancement of the industry and address the flaws that have always haunted it in the new government’s push to elevate local sugar supply to new heights and stabilize the market,” he further said.

TPC Limited CEO, Mr Marius Jacobs was optimistic on the growth of the sugar industry, describing it as “tremendous”.

He hinted that this will enable the local producers like his company to expand capacity and help to reduce imports.

Mr Jacobs said the company has invested over Sh250 billion in the past two decades in rehabilitation and modernization of the plant with the aim to increase the production capacity.

According to him, the capital injections have been a worthy investment “since they have helped to boost sugar output nationally and increase annual outturn of the plant to 110,000 tonnes”.

TPC Limited, the oldest sugar production plant in the country, is now targeting production to top 115,000 tonnes by 2025 “ which is in line with ongoing national efforts to boost local capacity”.

National sugar output expanded by 16.6 percent from 307,431 tonnes to 359,219 tonnes between 2013 and 2019, hitting 367,000 tonnes last year.

As of 2019 demand for domestic sugar stood at 470,000 tonnes, while the existing sugar processing factories had the capacity of producing 360,000 tonnes.

Apart from TPC, several other factories, including the Morogoro-based Kilombero Sugar Company (KSC) were undergoing some expansion projects in an effort to raise production and meet the government’s goal of reaching an output of 700,000 tonnes by 2025.

The KSC is currently constructing a new sugar factory which is expected to be completed by June 2024 and will double the company’s sugar processing capacity and contribute significantly to the country being sugar self-sufficient. Kilombero Sugar produces around 130,000 tonnes of sugar annually from approximately 1.25 million tonnes of sugar cane, 55 percent of which is cultivated by the company and 45 percent by out growers.