The cross-border trade wars between Kenya and Tanzania worsened last week after newly appointed Arumeru District Commissioner Jerry Muro announced a blanket ban on Kenyan carrots, in a bid to protect local producers from competition.
“During the harvesting period, carrots are imported from the neighbouring country, but by the power I have been given by the president, not a single carrot will be imported into the district,” Mr Muro told Arumeru residents.
He said that he and all carrot farmers would stand along the Arusha-Moshi Highway to inspect all lorries to ensure middlemen do not import a single carrot from Kenya.
In 2011, the five East African Community partner states signed a comprehensive Common Market Protocol, officially binding themselves to open up their borders for free movement of goods, labour and capital across the region.
However, the latest move brings into question Tanzania’s commitment to open its borders for cross-border trade as required by the EAC Common Market Protocol.
“This is a form of non-tariff barrier,” said the East African Business Council Trade and Policy advisor, Adrian Njau.
“Decisions made at the EAC’s higher level organs have not been communicated to grassroots leaders,” said lecturer, Gasper Mpehongwa.
“Today they will ban carrots from Kenya, next time Kenya will ban carrots from Tanzania,” he added, cautioning that ordinary East Africans were the victims of such decisions.
Tanzania and Kenya have been experiencing frosty diplomatic rows recently with Nairobi lodging a formal complaint against its neighbour. Last year, Tanzania seized and auctioned off 1,300 cattle from Kenya, which had wandered across the border to graze.
President John Magufuli warned Kenya that any livestock wandering into his country would be confiscated.
“Those who sneak with their livestock into this country will not be spared.”