TANZANIA – Tanzania will export 500,000 tonnes of corn to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under a trade agreement signed on May 21, 2024. 

This significant deal aims to help the DRC, which heavily relies on external imports to meet its cereal demands despite favorable agro-climatic conditions for corn production.

The agreement, concluded in Dodoma, involves Tanzania’s National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) and the Quincy Company, based in DRC’s Katanga Province. The initial shipment will consist of 200,000 tonnes of corn, with the remaining 300,000 tonnes to follow.

Andrew Komba, NFRA’s executive director, underscored the agency’s pivotal role in this operation, leveraging its current abundance of stocks across its 30 storage facilities nationwide. 

This surplus positions Tanzania to assist neighboring countries facing food shortages, such as the DRC, demonstrating the country’s preparedness and capacity in times of crisis.

Starting July 1, 2024, marking the beginning of the 2024/2025 fiscal year, the NFRA will also purchase maize and other food products from local farmers. 

This strategy aims to replenish and manage the food reserves effectively, ensuring sustained supply both domestically and for export needs.

Gerald Mweri, the permanent secretary in Tanzania’s Ministry of Agriculture, stressed that this agreement not only aids the DRC but also strategically positions Tanzania as a key player in regional food security. 

The deal is economically viable due to Tanzania’s membership in the East African Community (EAC), which exempts intra-community imports from customs duties, providing a strategic advantage.

In the DRC, corn production is estimated at around 2 million tonnes annually. The nation still faces a significant deficit, importing US$12 million worth of cereal in 2022, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). 

The new import deal with Tanzania is expected to significantly alleviate these shortfalls, addressing both immediate and mid-term food security concerns in the DRC.

This trade agreement comes as Tanzania’s maize exports to Kenya have dwindled, prompting Tanzania to seek alternative markets. 

Experts report that corn exports to Kenya have reduced by 34% due to non-tariff barriers requiring Kenyan exporters to apply for export certificates, which has pushed them to look for this commodity elsewhere. 

The DRC’s demand presents a timely opportunity to diversify and stabilize Tanzania’s agricultural export revenues.

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