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Tanzania ban on maize exports to stay, minister says

By | August 23rd 2011 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

By Luke Anami in Arusha

Tanzania has declined to lift ban on maize exports to Kenya despite requests for food assistance to alleviate a serious food shortage currently facing the country.

An East African Community Sectoral Council of ministers on Agriculture held in Arusha since Monday last week failed to reach a consensus  when Tanzania insisted it will not lift an export ban imposed on cereals last month ostensibly to ensure its food security.

“Our government will not lift the ban on exports of cereals including maize until the food security situation has been analysed,” Christopher Chiza, deputy minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives said in Arusha on Friday.

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Tanzania has a food surplus of over 1.1 million bags of cereals, including maize, which Chiza said might not be sufficient to allow for exports.

“While there are some parts of Tanzania that are food sufficient, there are other areas that are not. Once the food situation is fully assessed, the ban which is not restricted to Kenya only but to the rest of the world as well, will be reviewed.”

Chiza who spoke to The Standard denied claims by Kenya that the decision to ban maize exports last month was as a result of the latter’s decision to ban seed exports to EAC partner states, including Tanzania.

“The ban is temporary,” Chiza said. “In any case we have asked the EAC to allow us some time to consult within government to review our position in November.”

Despite Tanzania’s refusal, the other three EAC partner states of Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi agreed to allow exports of maize to Kenya which is experiencing a hunger crisis. Tanzania’s decision, however, could strain relations. A bitter Kenyan delegation said the principles of a common market forbade such bans.

Banned seed exports

The delegation was led by Agriculture Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki. Kenya banned seeds exports following a shortage of maize seed in the agriculture growing regions of Western and Rift Valley during the planting season early this year.

“We wish to request our neighbours in the EAC to assist us to contain the current food shortages,” said Mbiuki who was accompanied by Livestock Assistant minister Aden Duale, Agriculture Permanent secretary Dr Romano Kiome and Special Programmes PS Andrew Mondoh.

 “We are aware that our government has banned seed exports to other EAC member states but that does not mean that we do not abide by the requirements of a common market that allows for free movement of goods,” Mbiuki said.

“Kenya shall require food support until April next year when the short rains are expected,” Mondoh said.

The EAC secretariat has called for a special session to discuss the matter at the EAC Heads of State summit in November this year. “We appeal to EAC partner states to respond to Kenya’s request,” Dr Richard Sezibera, EAC Secretary General said.

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