The government has been urged to increase the stock of maize sold by the National Food Reserve and Agency (NFRA) to the public in order to enable more people, particularly those in hunger hit areas to easily access it.
Speaking to this paper in an interview, James Mwalukali, a maize vendor at Manzese area in Dar es Salaam said, the government has been buying few stocks of maize to be preserved at the NFRA.
“NFRA should always have enough food to feed people in regions hit by hunger,” he said.
Statistics from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) in its Monthly Economic Review for November 2012 shows that during the month of October 2012, the NFRA purchased 40,880.7 tonnes of maize and sorghum and sold 8,563.3 tonnes; out of these 3,836.2 tonnes were sold to private traders, 2,601.0 tonnes dished out to disaster relief and coordination unit in the Prime Minister’s office, and 2,126.1 tonnes to the Prisons Department.
According to him there are many districts which have been facing food shortage and need support from the government.
“How can the government support those districts if the National Food Reserve has a small stock?,” he asked.
Mwalukali said, the government should start buying enough maize from areas producing enough for surplus and preserve it to the NFRA.
According to BoT the stock of maize and sorghum held by NFRA increased to 98,544.3 tonnes in October, 2012 from 91,020.8 tonnes recorded in September, 2012.
However the BoT said on a month to month basis, average wholesale prices for major food crops decreased except for maize and rice.
On a month to month basis, average wholesale prices for all commodities showed a declining trend except for maize prices where by the price of maize increased on the account of high demand in local markets.
As the country worries of high prices of major food items, nearly 45 districts of Tanzania Mainland are facing food shortage due to mainly insufficient rains between August and November.
The Director of Food Security at the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Cooperatives Karimu Mtambo was recently quoted mentioning some districts in need of food as Karatu, Longido Monduli, Bahi, Chamwino , Hai, Mwanga, Same, Musoma, Rorya, Manyara, Mbulu, Simanjiro, Mvomero, Morogoro and Lindi.
Others are Kwimba, Magu, Bariadi, Maswa, Kahama, Kishapu, Meatu, Shinyanga, Iramba, Manyoni, Igunga, Nzega, Uyui, Sikonge, Korogwe and Lushoto.
In a bid to tame the situation, Mtambo said the government would soon distribute 40, 000 tonnes of maize to various markets across the country to curb the hike of maize prices. He said maize would be distributed in specific areas where food prices are reportedly rising, and that the exercise would be coordinated by the respective Regional Commissioners.
Last November Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued a report stating that the cost of food had risen alarmingly in the past 12 months and remained volatile.