China interested in local tobacco
TANZANIA is contemplating selling its Tobacco produce to China but cautioned producers over a likely price drop of the traditional crop which constitutes 40 percent of the total export earnings.
The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Mr William Ole Nasha, said in the National Assembly yesterday that the government was in talks with Chinese business firms to explore the possibilities of selling the crop in the Hong Kong market.
But Mr Ole Nasha was quick to caution that the crop had received criticism across the globe and it is high time farmers consider other alternative crops to farm.
“The Ministry (Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries) is in discussions to see if we can secure the Chinese market for our locally produced Tobacco,” he said noting that in the meantime, the government was also considering to sell its locally banned Shisha in the United Arab Republic.
Even though the deputy minister said the government had also embarked on encouraging private sectors to invest in tobacco processing industries to cater for the growing demand of the crop.
Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) figures indicate that tobacco contributed 252 million US dollars in export revenues. The sector accounts for over 70,000 jobs in direct employment to farmers across the country.
Deputy Minister Mr Ole Nasha, when responding to a basic question from Serengeti Member of Parliament Ryoba Chacha Marwa, who wanted to know how the government supports the availability of tobacco firms in Seregeti said: “there are a few companies involved in tobacco business countrywide and on the globe.”
He said while Tanzania had only four companies including Alliance One and JTI, worldwide there also four largest companies dealing with Tobacco business. In Mara Region, Tobacco business farming started in 2008 after the government embarked on a plan to enable famers to involve in agribusiness— allowing them to sell their produce in the local market.
However, the government failed to regulate the business in the region threatening to spread pests to both Kenya and Tanzania which had been sharing the same trade. This according to the minister, this pushed the government through Tobacco Board to formalize tobacco farming in 2011/2012 farming season.
“We invited all the companies in the country to buy Tobacco produced from Mara’s Serengeti region yet only one firm—Alliance One had been buying the crop.
The government will continue inviting all interested parties to buy tobacco produced in the country."