• Investigations underway to establish factors behind exorbitant prices
SEVERAL strategies are underway to reduce fertiliser prices by 20 per cent in the next farming season, the government announced yesterday.
Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Minister Charles Tizeba, speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam, decried the exorbitant fertiliser prices, saying the government has embarked on investigations to identify factors behind the abnormal increase in fertiliser prices in the country.
He said already the government has trimmed down the number of taxes on fertiliser importation and supply from 16 to 11 this year, with the view of attaining the 20 percent price decline in fertiliser in next agriculture season.
“We expect good performance in the agriculture sector next season because fertiliser prices are set to decrease by 20 per cent, enabling many farmers to apply the required amount of fertiliser in growing crops across the country,” the minister said.
Dr Tizeba noted with concern that while fertiliser production costs were decreasing, globally, the market prices in the country were soaring.
He said transporting fertiliser from Dar es Salaam to Kibondo in Kigoma region costs only 80 US dollars per tonne but some deceitful traders were hiking the rate to 100 US dollars. Transportation of one tonne of fertiliser from Egypt to Dar es Salaam costs 30 US dollars.
The Minister was speaking at the sidelines of the second Africa fertiliser agribusiness conference, with over 300 international fertiliser, agribusiness executives and regional government representatives from 45 countries, in attendance.
Dr Tizeba said the government was aware that there are some dishonest traders benefiting at the expense of poor farmers through hiking transportation costs and fertiliser prices in the country.
He added that one tonne of tobacco fertiliser reaches Dar es Salaam port at 240 US dollar and it costs 70 US dollars to haul it to Tabora region, but farmers in Tabora purchased the product at 1,050 US dollars per tonne last year.
“We have a serious problem in this business... some few people are stealing from farmers and government, we are therefore determined to investigate this matter,” he said.
He said the country’s total fertiliser consumption remains far below the Abuja Declaration target of 19.3 kilogrammes per hectare, underscoring the need to increase fertiliser uses to boost productivity.
The minister said many agricultural producers were failing to adequately apply fertiliser in their farms due to high prices.
“We are inviting investors to come and establish fertiliser plants in the country...this will help to reduce and regulate fertiliser prices in the country,” said Dr Tizeba, urging agriculture and fertiliser producers to partner in unlocking investments and spurring innovations to improve quality and supply.
fertilisers that will enrich soils and increase crop production. “We have to invest in food production for our bright future through harnessing technologies and innovations for better fertiliser production and distribution across Africa,” said Dr Tizeba. He said the government has prioritised transformation of agriculture whose contribution to GDP stands at 25 percent but experiences slow growth.
“I invite the private sector to explore the available opportunities in the fertiliser sector and beyond in transforming agriculture to achieve food security in Tanzania,” he noted.
According to Dr Tizeba, through the national Inputs Voucher Scheme, the government has raised awareness among farmers on the uses of fertilisers, with increased consumption fertilisers.
He added that the government is looking forward to the development of a three billion US dollar (over 6trn/-) urea plant whose construction is set to commence next December.
“The plant targets to produce 1.3 million tonnes of urea per year...this will increase availability of nitrogen fertilisers in the country and serve neighbouring countries, which have urea deficit of estimated at 2,605,870 MT,” he said.
Commenting on the fertiliser prices, the CRU’s head of phosphates, Mr Chris Lawson said it is important for the government to take serious stand in ensuring transparent in the fertiliser sector. He added that the government must also encourage competition in the sector and discourage monopoly.
“This business needs more transparency and the government needs to create good environment that will enable various companies to compete, automatically regulating prices in the country,” he said.
African Fertiliser and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP) Vice President, Mr Richard Mkandawile said: “Fertilisers are a food production lifeline and a thriving fertiliser industry means more productive farmers and better livelihood.”
He said the ongoing food challenge in Africa is a clarion call for coordinated efforts to transform the African agriculture and accelerate the continent’s economic growth, secure jobs and improve livelihoods.

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