Tanzania: PM Orders Sisal Levies Review

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to review all levies imposed on sisal, a move that aims at scrapping those nuisance charges from the cash crop.

He also instructed all financial institutions, to continue charging reasonable interest rates on their loans to sisal farmers, to avoid non-performing loans.

The Premier issued the directives on Wednesday in Tanga when he was addressing sisal stakeholders, asking the Ministry of Agriculture to continue monitoring progress of all cash crops grown in Tanzania.

He reiterated the government's commitment to restore the status of sisal plantation and that the Ministry of Agriculture should closely monitor progress of the the crop in all stages.

"Sisal has a lot of benefits but here we have put more emphasis on production of rope and twine, we can make better use of experts from our universities and other research institutions to explore more values of the crop," he explained.

According to him, the crop can also be used in the manufacturing of sugar, fertiliser and some of the drinks.

The Ministry of Agriculture was also instructed to continue upgrading the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (TARI) Mlingano Centre, and ensure it is fully equipped on production of enough sisal seedlings.

Mr Majaliwa extended the directives to the Sisal Board of Tanzania (SBT) to ensure it worked closely with TARI on improving the sisal production for the better prosperity of the cash crop, farmers and the country at large.

"I'm instructing all local government councils where sisal is grown and SBT to form a database for the aim of having records of all small and large scale farmers, as well as the size of their plantations," said Mr Majaliwa.

The database, according to him, will enable the government in reaching out to all farmers and helping them in the whole processes of preparing the farms, growing the crop and the better use of agricultural inputs for better productivity.

For his part, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture Mr Hussein Bashe said in the year 2020, the sisal production in the country was recorded at 36,298 tonnes less than the projection that was to harvest 42,286 tonnes of crop.

He said the ministry would continue to ensure the country lowers import of gunny sisal bags since they can be manufactured in the country, using the available raw materials.

"To begin with, the ministry has instructed that, when tenders will be announced for this year's cashew nut season, priorities will be given to all who will be using locally made sisal bags," said the Deputy Minister.

He also challenged all public owned factories that were privatised to start producing bags out of sisal and that, failure to do so; the ministry would never hesitate to advise the government on the possibility of repossessing them.

Earlier, the Acting Director General of SBT Mr Saady Kambona said in 2020, the Amboni Plantation Company took a lead in sisal production after producing 8,277 tonnes of the crops from 14,000 hectares plantation.

The second largest producer was Mohammed Enterprises Limited (MeTL) Company that harvested 4,922.53 tonnes of sisal in 33,000 hectares, as the small scale farmers produced 9,728.63 tonnes. "The target is having an annual produce of 150,000 tonnes by the year 2025," he said.

For his part, the Director General of Amboni Plantation Mr Casbert Nail said he has employed 3500 people in his plantations, asking for a further cooperation form the government on improving the productivity of sisal farming. He also expressed his satisfaction with the government's efforts on improving the investment climate.

"We have also been playing part in helping the surrounding villages in various projects, and for the financial year ending September last year we paid a total of 7.4bn/- to the labourers," the investor told the Prime Minister.

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