TANZANIA will not import sugar this year due to build ups in stocks for both locally produced and imported sugar, which is sufficient for the market, it has been learnt.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Ms Sophia Kaduma, confirmed of the development in a brief telephone interview with the 'Daily News'.
"There is enough stock of sugar for the local market at present and we will thus not import the product. The government will soon issue a press release on the issue," Ms Kaduma said briefly.
The country's sugar consumption stands at 480,000 tonnes per year but the four factories, namely Tanganyika Plantation Company, Kilombero, Kagera and Mtibwa Sugar produce only 320,000 tonnes, translating into a deficit of 160,000 tonnes of sugar that is filled by imports.
The demand gap is covered by licensed imported sugar that has to arrive in the country at the time when all factories close down for maintenance or have less stock for sale. During the off season, sugar factories close for maintenance or the wet season occasions, a situation of less sucrose in the canes and thus less sugar production.
The PS explained that the country imported more sugar than it required last year, thus leading to stockpiling of the product and further owing to the fact that local producers also enhanced their product. The imported product is referred to as "gap sugar."
The Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Engineer Christopher Chiza had earlier told this newspaper that the "ban" on importation of sugar will not be permanent.
The Director of Research at the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), Mr Hussein Kamote, welcomed the move, saying it will go a long way in ensuring reliable market for local industries. Mr Kamote went on and challenged responsible authorities to ensure that they conduct a thorough analysis before issuing licences for importation of sugar.
"The country imported more sugar than its requirement last year due to miscalculation of the requirements. The figures for imports were above the actual imports," Mr Kamote told the 'Daily News' in a telephone interview.
He noted also that even if local producers were able to meet the demand for the local market, importation of the commodity is still inevitable.
"This is because there are times when the factories close for between two and three months during rainy seasons, thus halting production," Mr Kamote noted.
He noted also that even as the country stops importation temporarily, it will still have to import industrial sugar since it is not produced locally. Some industry sources have revealed, however, that smuggling of sugar from some neighbouring countries was also among the factors leading to flooding of the product in the local market.