Dar es Salaam — Wholesale price of maize has increased by 48 per cent in a year triggering fears among consumers of the country's main staple food.
The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) monthly Economic Review for August shows that wholesale price of maize has climbed significantly to Sh61,341.4 per 100-kilo in July, 2019 from the Sh41,283.0 of the corresponding month of 2018.
On monthly basis, the report shows that the commodity prices also jumped by 2.5 per cent from Sh59,850.6 recorded in June this year.
This is happening despite Tanzania producing sufficient maize during the 2018/19 season, as the report shows 5.8 million tonnes against the required 5.5 million tonnes.
Maize is important for the country's food security and the skyrocketing prices is a cause for concern as maize flour prices keep on rising in urban markets.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Prof Joseph Buchweishaija, said the increase in the maize prices is a result of increased demand.
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Explaining, he said, the country's demand for the staple food had increased following a new buyer, Zimbabwe, which has requested for hundreds of thousands of tonnes from Tanzania.
"We received requests from Zimbabwe, Kenya and Rwanda. However, Zimbabwe is the only country that has entered into dialogue with the government to buy our maize," he said.
In view of this, he said that they were finalising discussions to sell maize to the southern Africa country, which is also battling economic sanctions.
An official of East African Grain Council (EAGC), Mr Ikunda Terry, said the continued increase of maize prices, is a result of low production during 2018/19 season when compared with the 2017/18 season when 6.2 million tonnes were produced.
Mr Terry said the decline of maize production in Tanzania was a result of vagaries of weather.
"Both increased demand for maize for exports and unfavourable weather will create pressure to the local supply, which will in turn cause the prices to go up," he said during a telephone interview.
According to him, the exports to Zimbabwe will be known later, but it was difficult know how much will be exported to Kenya and Rwanda, as some traders were taking advantage of porous border routes to export the commodity.
Mr Terry expressed his belief that the commodity prices will continue to increase until the next harvesting season.
Speaking with The Citizen yesterday, Tandika Market Business Community chairman Mohamed Mwekya said the commodity price has increased from Sh450 recorded last year to Sh600 per kilo in 2019.
Mr Mwekya said the country has enough stock, but increasing demand will continue to push the prices up.
"Traders are withholding their stocks in anticipation of better prices in future," he noted.
An official of the ministry of Industry and Trade, who has the knowledge of the market trend, said the situation was far from being labelled as a crisis.