THE agriculture ministry said early this week that the government had no intention of banning import and export permits for cereal crops and emphasized that it was encouraging farmers to form groups and have unified influence.
Mr Hussein Bashe, the Deputy Minister for Agriculture, told the National Assembly that import and export of cereal crop permits were being issued together with a phytosanitary certificates to facilitate local farmers and businessmen in the trade.
"The government, through the ministry, has continued releasing permits especially for maize exports and imports into the country," he said.
"The government has no plan whatsoever to stop farmers to work with the private sector in the import-export of crops."
The deputy minister issued the statement in response to a question by Anatropia Theonest (Special Seats, Chadema).
The legislator had wanted the government to explain why it had stopped farmers to work with the private sector in the export and import of crops, especially coffee, maize and cashew nuts "that could increase their earnings."
Theonest was concerned that alternatively, the State should adjust grants released to the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) to allow the entity to buy more crops in a time of tumbling prices.
But the deputy minister was quick to note that the government had no intention or plan to break the relationship between farmers and the private sector and that it was encouraging smallholder farmers to merge into groups that would give them veto power to sell or add value on their crops.
The Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa imposed a ban on maize exports in 2017, but the directive was lifted in 2018, allowing traders and farmers to export or import the food crop.
Mr Bashe said the government decided to establish NFRA was strategic, to ensure the State's food reserve and control food prices that would otherwise skyrocket the country's inflation.
"This is done by releasing cheap cereals into the local market," he said. But the crop at the agency is also essential during natural disasters.
He said the agency had been working closely with farmers across the country and had been the leading buyer of cereals produced by farmers at attractive packages.