Officiating at the launch of two surveys on food security, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture Prof Siza Tumbo challenged researchers to find out why the prices have been skyrocketing at a time when Tanzania has enough food reserves.
“One of the issues you should deliberate on is why maize prices have kept on going up because people living in urban areas have started complaining about this. The sack now sells at 107,000/- which is a substantial increase from 65,000/- last year.
The deputy PS raised concern that the price might reach unaffordable levels come February next year because prices of maize normally go up that month every year.
In its Quarterly Economic Review published in April last year, the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) said that the wholesale price for maize in different regions increased in February despite good harvests in the 2017/18 season.
The average wholesale price for a 100-kilo bag was up by 3.7 per cent to 50,811.6/- in February 2019 from 49,011.1/- recorded in January.
But Prof Tumbo insisted that the government is not considering closing borders to control the sale of Tanzanian maize outside the country as a means of controlling price hikes in the country.
“The country cannot keep closing and opening the borders every now and then. Because the issue is not export but rather how to control the prices,” he said.
He was addressing researchers from the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) and Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) who conducted the two studies necessitated by opposition to export of maize last year.
Ministerial data shows that maize production in the country was 6.2 million tonnes during fiscal 2017/18 from 6.6 million tonnes the previous financial year.
Tanzania’s demand for maize currently stands at 5,462,390 tonnes, hence resulting into a surplus of 810,760 tonnes.