Tanzania is facing a shortage of sugar, with the price of the commodity rising across the country despite the government’s decision to import some 70,000 tonnes last month.
In Dar es Salaam, prices have risen from Tsh2,000 ($1) per kilogramme to Tsh3000 ($1.5) a kilo above the government indicative price of Tsh1800 ($0.90) a kilo. As the shortage continued to bite, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said some 20,000 tonnes were distributed across Tanzania last week, while another 35,000 tonnes will be supplied soon.
Mr Majaliwa said that retail traders should not sell the government’s distributed sugar above Tsh2,200 ($1.05) per kilo. For nearly two months, Tanzania has experienced sugar shortage, with prices skyrocketing from Tsh2,000 ($1) to Tsh4,000 ($2) per kilo. The shortage of sugar has kicked off a debate during the Holy Month of Ramadhan, when Muslims need it to break the fast. Sugar is an important ingredient in numerous types of meals used when breaking the fast.
The sugar crisis has been brewing in Tanzania since President John Magufuli announced tough measures in February to control sugar imports to protect local manufacturers.
The president tightened control measures, personally assuming the responsibility of issuing sugar import permits. His move stung sugar importers who have allegedly been trying to frustrate the new arrangement through tampering with the distribution of locally produced sugar. Soft drinks and carbonated beverage manufacturers said the government plan to add import duty on industrial sugar to its budget now under discussion in the parliament would greatly affect the fast-growing soft drinks sector.