The change followed the visit to Kenya by President Samia Suluhu Hassan in May, where trade disputes were ironed out with host President Uhuru Kenyatta, and some procedural issues left to the relevant ministers of both countries to find solutions so as to effectively remove impediments to trade between the two countries.
Regional Commissioner Juma Homera and Mbeya Urban MP Dr Tulia Ackson on Wednesday visited Raphael Rice Mill Ltd at Uyole ward and witnessed a large consignment of Kenya destined rice being loaded onto trucks.
Raphael Ndelwa, operator of the rice milling plant, said that there was currently high demand of the cereal across the northern border, noting that as the truck already full of rice was departing for Nairobi, “other Kenyan buyers are dispatching their trucks to pick up rice here. We have enough rice stock for the Kenya market and still farmers are bringing to us more rice,” he told the RC and other members of the regional defence and security committee.
In addition to rice, the miller has also been buying various crops like beans, groundnuts and sunflower for value addition and sale, along with meeting export market demand, despite challenges facing the mill, which now include inadequate space to stock rice. Piling up sacks in the open ruins its quality by admixture with the elements, he said.
The miller has thus sought a loan he quoted at 3bn/- from the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) for construction of warehouses for storage of the crops, having obtained land plots for the purpose.
RC Homera expressed his satisfaction with the investor’s efforts for thinking up a modern rice milling facility, promising to see to it that TADB looks positively at the loan request so as to upscale the grain milling and value addition environment in the region.
He praised the investor for being close to small scale farmers in various regions in the Southern Highlands Zone., while Dr Ackson said apart that from boosting country’s GDP the mill was helping to boost job creation.
“The mill owner only reached Standard Seven but has employed more than 40 well educated people with degrees and more than 200 labourers in the mill’s various departments,” the noted legislator underlined.