Dodoma — WITH vast fertile land and potential for edible oil production, the government has challenged Dodoma and Kigoma regions to seize the opportunity to become the regional hub for cooking oil. Tanzania spends at least 120 million US dollars (over 270bn/-) on importation of the expensive cooking oil from Malaysia and Singapore annually.
When launching a twoday consultative meeting bringing representatives of the private sector and the Tanzania National Business Councils from the two regions, Minister for Regional Administration and Local Governments Suleiman Jaffo said the regions must strive to become the regional hub for cooking oil.
"We're struggling to get edible oil but Dodoma has the potential and has fertile land for groundnuts and sunflower production. Kigoma has been the best producer of sesame -- one of the best raw materials for edible oil," he said.
The Minister highlighted that the two regions must fully utilise their district, regional and national level business councils to seek solutions to eliminating the challenges that frustrate the growth of the edible oil subsector.
"We need to understand whether these challenges are orchestrated by local government leaders or the private sector," he said. He suggested that there is a need to find solid solutions. Just last month, the country witnessed yet another worst nightmare when retail prices for cooking oil skyrocketed at an unprecedented rate in the local market.
There were no clear figures as to the volume of groundnuts, sunflower or sesame produced annually in the two regions, but authorities claimed that the two have the potential to become the regional exporters.
Dodoma Regional Commissioner Dr Binilith Mahenge said at the meeting yesterday that the region is facing two major challenges -- a lack of good seeds for sunflower and a limited experts who would help farmers to maximize their production.
Dr Mahenge said, the meeting will help identify new solutions on the best way to address the challenges. "The government is investing in the construction of infrastructure including an International Airport at Msalato. A total of 200bn/- has been released for the purpose. This will help in the exportation of surplus agro produce," he said.
A brief statement from Kongwa District Commissioner, Mr Deogratius Ndejembi, hinted that an investment has been put in place to produce at least 30 tonnes of edible oil a day in Kongwa District. The 4.2bn/- investment will further enable double refining of sunflower to ensure they get cooking oil that meets international standards.
Ms Oliver Damasi, Director of Finance and Administration at the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) said there had been slow interaction between members of the public and private sector. "This is why we're holding this meeting to cement relations that will help boost our economy."