TANZANIA – Tanzanian food export traders now have a reason to smile after export permits go online effective July 1 to ease cumbersome procedures experienced by exporters.

The announcement was done by the Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe while addressing the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Tanzania is one of the major maize and rice exporters to Kenya and other East and Central African countries.

However, food crops exporters are required to obtain export permits from the Ministry of Agriculture, except those which are regulated by boards and those which are perishables.

According to Bashe, the food crop export permit system would change from manual to online, following concerns over cumbersome procedures involved in obtaining the permits that led to queues of trucks transporting maize to Kenya parking at Holili and Namanga border posts.

According to local news, the problem had seen traders contending with huge losses, especially those who had hired trucks to ferry the grains into Kenya.

Bashe was responding to Lupembe Member of Parliament, Edwin Swale (CCM) who raise the issue while contributing to the 2023/24 government budget.

The Lupembe lawmaker had lamented red tape in obtaining food crops’ export permits, noting that exporters were subjected to unnecessary hassles.

There is red tape in obtaining (food crops) export permits. Exporters have to go through unnecessary hassles to obtain the permits,” said the legislator, adding that maize prices were declining because of the problems in exports.

The announcement comes at a time when Minister Bashe said the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has begun buying maize from farmers and was offering competitive prices.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, crop buying in this harvesting season has begun and NFRA would buy 200,000 tonnes of maize and 200,000 tonnes of rice.

According to the announcement, NFRA will open centers at Songea for Ruvuma farmers, Makambako for Njombe and Iringa farmers, Songwe for Songwe and Mbeya farmers, and Sumbawanga for Rukwa and Katavi farmers.

Other centers will be opened in Dodoma for Dodoma and Singida farmers, Arusha for Arusha and Manyara farmers, and Shinyanga for Tabora and Kigoma farmers.

Rice will be bought at NFRA centers in Iringa, Morogoro, Songwe, Mbeya, and Tabora regions, the announcement further shows.

Farmers could take their crops to the buying centers on their own, through their Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society (AMCOS) or agents, Bashe added.

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