Dodoma — THE government is keen on developing large-scale rice farms in order to minimize importation of the foodstaff, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Mr Adam Kighoma Malima, has said.
Mr Malima, who was responding to a question from Mr Khatib Said Haji (Konde - CUF), said that the local variety of rice was one of the best in the world. He added that large-scale rice production was possible.
In his question Mr Haji had sought to know the year Japan started supplying Tanzania with rice donations. He also wanted to know when Zanzibar started getting its share of the donated rice.
Mr Haji was concerned that the rice was passed to business companies on loan basis but some of the companies failed to honour their loans. He demanded to know what the State would do to recover the money.
Mr Malima said that the government of Japan has been donating supplies of rice since 1979. Available statistics show that from 1992 to 2011, Japan donated 183,366.92 tonnes of rice worth 7,770,000,000 Japanese yen.
Zanzibar got a share of the donated rice in an arrangement that took off in 1995.Until last calendar year, Zanzibar had received 7,218.98 tonnes of the donated rice. Between 1999 and 2005 there was no supply for Zanzibar.
The deputy minister said that the rice received from Japan between 1999 and 2005 was sold on the local market through open tenders. Under this arrangement any company in the country could ask for a tender.
"It is true that initially, the government sold the rice on loan basis and eight companies, including the defunct Regional Trading Company (RTC), failed to pay back their loans," the deputy minister said. After failing to recover the loaned money, the government contracted Msolopa Investment Company which is still chasing the borrowers until now, the deputy minister added.