TANZANIA – The National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has collected 224,000 tonnes of cereals, their highest level in 8 years.
Speaking to The Citizen Andrew Komba, NFRA’s Executive Director noted that the agency has successfully collected 244,000 tonnes of maize, rice, and smaller quantities of millet a quantity that data shows was last recorded in November 2018.
In Tanzania, cereals are the main agricultural crops accounting for more than half of the harvests.
According to data from the Ministry of Agriculture, the country produced around 11.4 million tonnes of this category of food in 2022/2023.
According to the state agency, this stockpile marks a noteworthy turnaround as NFRA has experienced a significant drop in its stocks for the past eight years.
Komba stated that NFA’s objective is to procure 350,000 tonnes during the 2023/24 Fiscal Year, aligning with the country’s broader strategy of increasing cereals storage capacity to three million tonnes by 2030.
Back in 2015, NFRA had stockpiled about 238 000 tonnes of cereals which was a drop after beginning of the year with 459, 561 tonnes in January as reported in the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) monthly economic review for December 2015.
Despite facing challenges, efforts to replenish the reserves led to a substantial increase of 214,968 tonnes by December 2021.
“We have implemented several strategies to achieve this ambition and meet the demands of the country. Some of these strategies involve mobilizing increased government funding and exploring alternative financing options from national and financial institutions,” the official explained.
While addressing market competition within the procurement process, Dr. Komba explained that NFRA offers relatively competitive prices for grains without distorting the market.
He revealed that this approach is designed to attract farmers to engage with the agency.
Audax Rukonge, an agriculture stakeholder noted that NFRA’s capacity has been adversely impacted by insufficient funding and the agency’s release of stocked food.
However, he lauded the proposed prices for the 2023/24 fiscal year which he says have discouraged private buyers resulting in a more favourable environment for the national agency.
“During procurement, NFRA has been offering exceptionally high prices per kilo of cereals, excluding private buyers from the process, which has led to a saturation of the produce in the agency’s warehouse,” Rukonge explained.