BY THE GUARDIAN TEAM 4th March 2010 Email Print Comments No local buyers, after govt export ban Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Dr David Mathayo David. More than one million tonnes of food crops in Rukwa region may rot following the government decision to ban their export to avert food shortage in the country. The stocks are part of 1.6 million tonnes of food crops harvested in the region in the last season, of which only 250,000 for the farmers own consumption. The Rukwa Regional Commissioner Daniel Ole Njoolay told a Network of Smallholder Farmers (Mviwata) in Mbeya that the National Food Reserve Agency in Rukwa was capable of buying only 40,000 tonnes per year, but the government had increased the amount to 60,000 tonnes. This still leaves more than 1.3 million tonnes without an assured local market, now when the government has banned export of food crops. The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Dr David Mathayo David expressed doubt over the Rukwa statistics, but promised to send a team of experts from the ministry to check them out. The Rukwa RC said restricting export of the surplus food crops was demoralising farmers who saw their unsold crops rotting, incurring huge losses. Responding to why the government banned exportation of food when it was not able to buy all of it, Dr Mathayo insisted that the government would not change its decision. When pressed further on the plight of Rukwa farmers, the minister said the government will look closely into their case. We can not take a decision now. We have to make an evaluation first, insisted the Dr Mathayo. He admitted that the region lacked reliable infrastructure, saying it faced serious problems during the rain seasons. He however insisted that it was not upon the government alone to buy food from Rukwa region. There are other stakeholders like businessmen who have been buying food from the region, he said. However Dr Mathayo failed to admit if the government and businessmen were capable of buying at least half of the food from the region in order to ensure that farmers had a reliable market. Earlier Ole Njoolay in an interview with this paper insisted that Rukwa regional authorities have already requested the government to allow farmers to export surplus food produced in the region. It is true that the government has restricted export of food for this ending season, but we have requested to be allowed to export the surplus. We expect to produce 2.2 million tonnes of food in the coming season, he said. We decided as a regional consultative council to request the government to allow farmers to sell surplus food in other countries like Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and others, said the RC. The government was however yet to respond to the request. Njoolay said it had been difficult for the farmers to sell all of their surplus food within the country due to the fact that the government is not capable of buying all of it. He said the region also suffered from poor road infrastructure. For this season the region expects to produce 700,000 tonnes of maize, but only 250,000 tonnes are needed by the region if we will not be assured of reliable local market, where are we going to sell the remaining 450,000 tonnes of food? queried Njoolay. On Sunday this week, Dr Mathayo warned those who would go against the government directive that serious legal measures will be taken against them. The deputy minister was responding to claims by some farmers in Rukwa Region who got a bumper crop and wanted to sell the surplus to neighbouring Zambia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo for lack of local markets. SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN Swali langu mimi; .....hivi lini wananchi wa Sumbawanga watajengewa barabara za uhakika ili waweze kupata soko la uhakika la mazao yao?tukumbuke kuwa mkoa wa Rukwa ni among the 'big four'ambao ndio wanaongoza katika uzalishaji wa zao la mahindi Tanzania,hence WANALISHA TANZANIA........!!!!!