A month after lifting a ban on sugar importation, Tanzanian authorities have imposed yet another one, this time putting a stop to the issuance of permits.
According to a statement from the Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga, the government will instead devise strategies to boost production to meet the internal demand.
"We have realised that sugar companies import sugar very fast, overlooking their role of producing; this is not acceptable, we think we should release them from importing sugar," said Mr Hasunga, adding that a freeze on the issuance of permits will force sugar factories to concentrate on production.
The minister said that the decision was reached after an assessment carried out by his deputy Innocent Bashungwa and Permanent secretary Mathew Mtigumwe revealed that the companies were opting for importation over production.
Mr Hasunga said the country has enough stock until May, and that permits will be issued to non-sugar producing companies from June to bridge the gap.
"The government will issue temporary permits to import between 25,000 and 28,000 tonnes of sugar," he said.
Last year, Tanzania banned Ugandan sugar traders from its market, on claims that the sugar was from Kenya.
In January, the government started issuing permits to traders to import sugar from Uganda, only to block it a month later.
The national annual sugar demand stands at 670,000 tonnes, against a production capacity of about 320,000 tonnes.
Production rose to 303,431.14 tonnes in the 2017/2018 financial year, from 293,075 tonnes in 2015/2016.
Kenya has since last year been importing sugar from Uganda due to a supply shortfall.
Kakira Sugar assistant general manager Kenneth Barungi said that Uganda has the capacity to close the demand gaps in Kenya and Tanzania.
Kenya relies on the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to plug an annual deficit of 350,000 tonnes.
Tanzania also has agreements to trade with countries from Comesa and the Southern African Development Community to plug its sugar supply gap.