27 January 2013

Tanzania: Govt Moves to Avert Soaring Maize Flour Prices

Dar es Salaam — The government has approved the release of some 40,000 tons of maize from the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to help lower prices of maize flour in the local market.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Eng. Christopher Chiza explained that the government's decision to release maize from its stock followed a food prices analysis conducted in November last year which showed that the prices of the cereal was soaring in most cities and big towns around Tanzania.

"December last year consumers were forced to buy a kilo of maize flour for between Tsh1,100 ($ 0.674) and Tsh1,500 ($ 0.919) which was too much for an ordinary Tanzanian" Eng Chiza told East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam last week.

According to Eng Chiza 20,000 tons were to be sold between this month (January) and February and other 20,000 tons would be sold from March, 2013.

"Maize will be sold to agents at a lower price of only Tsh450 ($ 0.276) per kilogramme, with intention to make traders sell the flour to consumers at a reasonable price," stressed Chiza.

Minister Chiza pointed out that all regions are required to appoint trustworthy milling agents who will eventually be able to sell the flour to consumers all over the country at a reasonable price.

He said that he is happy because some regions have already outlined indicative prices for maize flour that is between Ts750 ($0.459) and Tsh900 ($0.551) depending on the area.

However, some Dar es Salaam residents have raised concern over dishonest agents, who have a tendency of buying food stuffs for lower price from the government stocks and sell them for higher price in order to get bigger profit.

"This is not the first time the government is doing this effort. They have been doing this but the traders do not sell at the price recommended by the government," said Hamisa Ramadhani, a resident of Mwananyamala.

Another Dar es Salaam resident based in Ubungo, Mr. Noel Nathan called for government inspection officers to arrest unfaithfully agents and traders.

"We are happy to know that the government is making some effort to make us buy maize flour at a lower cost, but my worry is most of our traders are not faithful, they might buy at low price and sell at the same price they are selling now," said Merina Adamson resident of Mbezi.

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