Tanzania Sugar Producers Association (TSPA) chairman Ashwin Rana said in a statement yesterday that local producers are now struggling to sell stockpiles of the sweetener due to a glutted market largely caused by the illegal imports.
“Currently there is too much sugar in the market compared to demand. We have failed to sell the consignments that we imported when closing our factories for maintenance between March and May this year,” Rana said.
He expressed concern that producers will find it difficult to sell the 348,989-tonne sugar harvest expected in the 2018/19 season, which will be the highest ever for Tanzania.
The country’s current sugar production capacity is 320,000 tonnes annually, according to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. Annual demand stands at 630,000 tonnes for domestic sugar and 145,000 tonnes for industrial sugar.
According to Rana, some unscrupulous local traders are illegally importing industrial sugar for domestic consumption, in contravention of 2015 legislation which restricts industrial sugar users from selling or distributing it for domestic use or trading purposes.
“The importation of industrial sugar is normally done through repacked food and re-bagging of the product using local packaging materials,” the TSPA chairman clarified.
He however commended the government for entrusting sugar producing companies with the responsibility of importing sugar in order to fill any domestic market deficits, on condition that the essential commodity no longer goes missing in the country.
Industry, Trade and Investment Minister Charles Mwijage said recently that drought in the eastern, central and southern parts of Africa during the 2017/18 season triggered a drop in local sugar production from the projected 314,000 tons to 300,399 tons.
According to Mwijage who was addressing the National Assembly recently, deficits of 165,000 tons for domestic sugar and 145,000 tons for industrial sugar were complimented through imports.
Local companies that have received a government greenlight to import sugar in times of scarcity are Kilombero Sugar Company Limited, TPC-Moshi Sugar Refining Mill, Kagera Sugar Company Limited, and Mtibwa Sugar Estates Limited.