Dar es Salaam — The government has outlined strategies to turn Tanzania into a fertilizer hub including increasing importation and re-exportation to the East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states.
Apart from increasing the volume of cargo passing in the country, the move is expected to lower fertilizers' price that has skyrocketed by 50 percent in the global market between June 2020 and June 2021.
Agriculture minister Adolf Mkenda made the statement during his visit at the Dar es Salaam Port to inspect logistics readiness to receive imported fertilizers for distribution to different parts of the country.
"Importation of a large quantity of fertilizer will reduce prices of the produce. Unfortunately, Zambia that imported the product through the Dar es Salaam Port shifted to the Beira Port in Mozambique," he said.
According to him, the decision provides room for availability of more fertilizers for Zambia and Mozambique as they share overhead costs due to a large consignment of cargo, therefore cutting costs.
"We want them back. Traders should bring as much fertilizers as possible and our role will be to facilitate quick transportation to countries of final destination be it Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Uganda and elsewhere in the world. This will make Tanzania fertilizer's export hub," he said.
He said the Tanzania Fertilizers Regulatory Authority (TFRA) managing director has been given a mandate to issue import and re-export permits instead of the previous procedures that demanded the permits be granted by the minister.
Furthermore, he said traders have asked consideration on issues of ships' waiting charges whose burden is carried by farmers, hinting that the port has assured to give a priority to fertilizers imports.
"To us food is a matter of national security. Since imported weapons will not be left to wait on waters, we have asked for the same to happen on consignments of fertilizers," he said.
He said Dar port has increased the number of bagging machines to accelerate the offloading and bagging process of fertilizers and reduce costs that would be directed to farmers.
Prof Mkenda said truck owners transporting fertilizers have asked authorities to review Value Added Tax (VAT) for service delivery, a matter he said would be considered.
"My call to public servants is that we shouldn't frustrate truck transporters on the roads, rather we should help them to take fertilizer to farmers on time. Domestic and international fertilizer traders should come and do business in Tanzania, something that will lower prices," he said.
He called on Tanzanian traders to make money in the business, pledging to give a special priority to local traders who trade the merchandise.