THE country's sugar industry expects to largely target export markets in the next four years as more foreign agricultural investments flow in by 2016, a departure from the current situation where there is existence of sugar gap every year, authorities say.

The Sugar Board of Tanzania (SBT) says its nine projects whose implementation will see the country tripling its annual sugar production from the current estimate of 300,000 metric tonnes to 910,000 metric tonnes come 2016, targets the current usually experienced gap sugar. The projects, which are in various stages of implementation, include Rufiji (Coast Region), Kasulu (Kigoma Region), Ikongo (Mara Region), Luiche/ Malagarasi (Kigoma Region), Pangani (Tanga Region), Mahurunga (Mtwara Region) and Kilosa in Morogoro Region.

“These projects should come to fruition come 2016. With the total amount of sugar we are producing, we’ll be able to export some to our neighbours in East Africa,” the SBT project manager, Mr Abdul Mwankemwa, says. Currently, the country has four major sugar factories with an annual sugar production of at least 300,000 metric tonnes against the demand of 500,000 metric tonnes.

Yet, surprisingly, while the country experiences gap sugar, poor timings in importation of sugar to offset shortages has sometimes created excesses, that have affected businesses of local large-scale producers. However, according to checks conducted by ‘Daily News’ at plants such as the Kilombero sugar, it is evident that poor distribution network that is dominated by a few greedy middlemen is still a challenge.

The ‘Daily News’ has learnt that some 40,000 tonnes of unsold sugar for Kilombero’s Illovo worth over 10bn/- still remained piled up in godowns and around Kilombero and Dar es Salaam due to failure to secure local markets, until a government export licence a few weeks ago to enable them to sell only 10,000 tonnes of the consignment in the European Union. But following requests to export, Kilombero Sugar Company and Kagera Sugar Company, the two firms among the country’s sugar manufacturers, were allowed to export 19,500 tonnes of sugar to European Union, Uganda and Southern Sudan markets.

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