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EDITORIAL: TEA AUCTION PLATFORM GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY

Thursday April 15 2021

For far too long now, Tanzania has been auctioning its tea for export at the Mombasa Tea Auction in Kenya. Reports that our own tea auction system will soon become operational is very good news indeed.

As we reported yesterday, the director general of the Tanzania Tea Board (TTB), Mr Nicholaus Mauya, revealed that TTB has already set in book-form tea auction guidelines.

The guidelines give directions to tea farmers and traders on how best to go about conducting their part of the tea business – including ways and means of more effectively exploiting the hitherto untapped tea export potential.

According to the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Trade Centre – a joint agency of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation – Tanzania has more than $27.3 million (about Sh63.3 billion) in tea exports potential which is yet to be tapped!

TTB projects that the country will produce about 40,000 tonnes of processed tea in the 2020/21 harvest season, up from the 37,000 tonnes in 2018/19.

In such a situation, it is only prudent that we should as much as possible – and as soon as possible – localise our tea business... To say nothing of the other cash-cum-export crops, including cashew nuts, coffee, cotton, tobacco, cloves and sisal.

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On September 30, 2020, we applauded the idea of establishing an online tea auction platform at the Tanzania Mercantile Exchange (TMX) in Dar es Salaam, saying that such a system would be a boon for tea farmers and traders alike.

However, starting the system last October was delayed as TTB awaited approval by the Warehouse Receipts Regulatory Board of its two warehouses with the capacity to store 13,000 tonnes of tea at once.

With the tea auction guidelines now in place, Tanzania is truly in the final stages of having its very own global tea auctioning system.


INVESTMENT MOVE WELCOME

Drastic fall of investments in Tanzania in the past five years or so is cause for concern, calling for a comprehensive approach to woo investors. Changes in legislative frameworks denying incentives to investors have largely contributed to the drop in investments.

We need investors for our industrialisation agenda. So, the government’s move to formulate new strategies is laudable.

The Controller and Auditor General’s 2019/20 report warrants concern for the investments trend in Tanzania.

The value of investments now stands at $1.853 billion, a massive drop from the $7.7 billion in 2015/16. We believe the new investment strategy disclosed by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Tuesday will help woo investors.

Dwindling investments means loss of revenues and jobs, thus creating a huge pool of jobless youth, with some of them forced into criminal activities. Hopefully, the new National Investment Development Strategy will be foolproof and inclusive.

Indeed, there were some achievements in investments about a decade or so ago. But analysts believe the sector now faces a myriad challenges. These include investment promotion, coordination and facilitation, including ready availability of land for investment and appropriate incentives.

Vibrancy in investments is crucial if Tanzania is to make sustainable giant strides in socioeconomic development.