The government on Tuesday said that the recent drop in the prices of Nile perch (sangara) in the country has been caused by lack of a market in Europe.
The Minister for Livestock Development and Fisheries Dr David Mathayo told the National Assembly that over 95 percent of the fish from Lake Victoria were being processed and sold outside the country.
His statement followed a dispute which emerged between fishermen in the Lake Victoria Zone and factory owners who reduced fish prices.
He mentioned other factors which led to the drop in the prices as instability of the Euro, economic and business slump in some countries including Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece which are the main markets for fish from East African countries.
The Minister said other factors were unemployment facing the country thus affecting its capacity to buy items including food thus forcing people to eat other foods like pork and chicken because they are cheaper.
Dr Mathayo said the presence of other types of fish whose prices are cheap from the Far East countries of Vietnam, China and Australia has caused the prices of Nile perch to drop.
According to reports from FAO GLOBEFISH OF April 2012 the prices of Nile perch in European countries started to drop from 2009/2010 when one kg fetched euros7 dropping to euros4.50 in 2011/2012, he said.
In the past two weeks, he said, prices of Nile perch in the East African countries have also dropped. In Tanzania it fell from 4,500/- per kg to 3,000/-, while in Uganda it dropped from 6,000/- to 4000/- which is Tsh2600/-, while in Kenya the prices went down from KShs 210 to KShs 120 which is equivalent to TShs 2,300/-.
He said the government has discussed the price issue with the factory owners, fish agents and fishermen who sell fish to fish processing factories on the possibilities of improving the business and prices.
He said it has been agreed that fish agents and fishermen should meet with factory owners to discuss the possibilities of compensating the loss caused by the suddenly drop of prices.
The Minister said the Tanzania Industrial Fishing & Processors Association (TIFPA) should submit to the government the proposed price before July 5, this year.
“The prices which will be used during the transitional period from June 21 to July 5, this year will result from the agreement entered between the factory owners and the fish agents,” he said.
He said currently each factory has agreed with its agents as per their contracts, for example, Tanzania Fish Processors to buy a kg of fish at between 3000/- and 3100/- while Omega should buy at between 3000/- and 3200/- and Vic Fish should buy at 3000/- per kg.
He said the government has directed its embassies in the countries which buys Nile perch from Tanzania to make follow ups on the prices so that the prices are known to fishermen and agents so that it can continue advising the factory owners.
Last week Ilemela MP Highness Kiwia asked the Parliament to discuss the dispute between fishermen and fish factory owners who he alleged had lowered the fish prices to the extent that they had affected the fishermen.
However, Speaker of the National Assembly Anne Makinda ordered the government to issue a statement on the dispute.