Experts have advised the Tanzania government to lift periodic bans on maize and rice exports saying the measures have discouraged food production and denied Tanzania an opportunity to control the East African market.
Economists and policy makers told a recent food security workshop that experience shows that the bans have not been effective to increase supplies and lower the prices of cereals for the domestic market in relation to demand as had been anticipated.
Instead the prices have remained unchanged, and if they did change they were in favour of traders while being a burden to poor producers in terms of production and market prices, they said.
The President and Chief Economist of Associates for International Resources and Development (AIRD) Dr Dirck Stryker was one of the experts during a workshop on policy options for increasing Tanzanian Exports of Maize and Rice in East Africa.
Improving the country’s food security to the year 2025 was also discussed at the workshop held recently in Dar es Salaam.
He said low prices to producers meant transferring income from producers to those who receive bribes to allow maize-laden trucks to pass to those who take the risks of continuing to export the crops through unofficial routes. The export bans do not completely stop trade, he added.
Stryker, who is a former lecturer at Yale University, warned that the neighbouring countries may not accept Tanzania as a reliable exporter and therefore develop their own production system or import from other countries as an alternative, thus denying an opportunity for Tanzania to become the granary of Eastern Africa due to its large expanse of productive agricultural land.
For his part, Xingshen Diao, senior research fellow from international food policy research institute said export bans not only have the potential to reduce producer prices locally but can cause significant market uncertainty for private sector traders and ultimately make them less responsive to future opportunities for trade and investment.
Presenting a paper on the impact of maize export ban on agricultural growth and household welfare in Tanzania, he said when export bans are effective and actually reduce trade together with domestic producers’ prices they can have adverse effects in the importing country by restricting its supply leading to higher prices in the long run.
The chief Executive Officer of Southern Agriculture growth corridor of Tanzania (SAGOT) Dustan Mrutu said limiting producers from exports was not a solution because nowadays many farmers around the world sold their crops online.
He advised the government to make sure that foreigner investors are partnering with local producers to increase productivity among the locals and improve economic growth.