Tanzania dismisses claims of freezing maize export permit

What you need to know:

  • Agriculture minister responds to circulating claims in neighbouring Kenya that Tanzania has banned export of maize to the country, which happen to be unfounded

Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday dismissed claims that Tanzania had frozen issuance of new maize export permits, urging traders from neighbouring countries to follow procedures.

“Tanzania hasn’t barred issuance of permits for maize exports and it is not planning to do so. Traders should follow crop export procedures including securing crop export permits that are issued free of charge,” said Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe during an interview with The Citizen.

“Between August 27 and September 7, 2022, Tanzania issued maize export permits for 37,450 tonnes of the product,” added Mr Bashe.

Furthermore, he said exporters were supposed to secure two important documents for agricultural produce to be issued: export permit and phytosanitary certificate.

“The challenge is that people don’t want to follow procedures. Foreigners would like to arbitrarily enter the farms in Tanzania and ferry the crop to their respective nations,” he said.

He said the country has put procedures to control arbitrary crop business including the mandatory condition to secure export permits as a company and foreign exporters are supposed to register their companies domestically.

“These procedures have been put in place to prevent possible burden that could befall the government and the country in case there were challenges facing the produce in the international market,” he said.

The minister’s clarification follows reports from Kenya that Tanzania had frozen the issuance of new maize export permits for its traders in what could worsen the shortage of the product, which has triggered historic high flour prices.

Some millers and animal feed manufacturers in Kenya were quoted by Business Daily as saying that Tanzania stopped issuing permits last week, tightening the supply of the staple locally.

“We have been unable to get maize from Tanzania since last week after the country stopped issuing export permits to traders with the cutting off of stocks from Tanzania expected to push up the cost of flour,” said Mr Ken Nyaga, the chairperson of the United Grain Millers Association.

Mr John Gathogo, the publicity secretary of the Association of Kenya Feed Manufacturers, said their members were unable to get stocks from Tanzania as well following the move that has seen processors cut down on production.

Millers are issued with a one-off permit for grain export from Tanzania and they need to apply for a new one every time they intend to ship maize out of that country, according to Business Daily.

Data from the Eastern Africa Grain Council shows imports from Tanzania nearly grew five-fold last year to 469,474 tonnes from 98,000 tonnes in 2020. The development has left processors jostling for stocks that are available locally and a few imports coming in from Zambia. Tanzania restricts exports to protect its local stock following poor harvests.