Rain, higher food prices usher new year in Tanzania

Monday January 06 2020

As heavy rain pounds swathes of Tanzania, fresh food prices have shot through the roof. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Tanzanians ushered in 2020 having to dig deeper in their pockets for basic foodstuffs.

Traders are blaming the surge in prices on heavy rain that has been pounding several regions of the country since late last year and are still causing havoc in the transport sector, signalling tougher times in ahead.

In the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, a box of tomatoes is retailing for Tsh60,000 ($26.01) to Tsh80,000 ($34.68).

A kilogramme of beef is going for between Tsh7,000 ($3.03) and Tsh8,000 ($3.46), while that of sugar sells for between Tsh2,400 ($1.04) and Tsh2,800 ($1.21).

Wholesale prices for food items have gone up with maize prices rising from Tsh100,000 ($43.35) per 100kg bag to Tsh110,000 ($47.68); Rice from Tsh190,000 ($82.36) to Tsh220,000 (95.37) per 100kg; and beans from Tsh230,000 ($99.70) to Tsh280,000 ($121.38) per 100kg.

Minister of Finance and Planning Minister Dr Phillip Mpango said Tuesday that food inflation in the country rose to an average of 6.7 per cent in November, compared with two per cent in the previous year.


He attributed it on the transport challenges, marketing infrastructure, warehousing and the supply chain of food products in certain areas.

He also cited “… food shortage in the neighbouring countries that made those countries attract our exports to them.”

The situation might persist into the first quarter of 2020, with the Tanzania Meteorological Agency forecasting more rains and flash floods across the country.

Most affected are Bunda district near Lake Victoria; Morogoro region in eastern Tanzania, and Mbeya region near the border with Zambia where heavy rain has destroyed the 80-kilometre road linking the rice producing Mbarali district to the rest of the country.

Affected roads connecting with Dar es Salaam are to blame for the increased cost in transporting foods and people to the capital.

Damage has been reported on a section of the road linking the food basket region of Iringa to Dodoma city, and several bridges along the highway have been submerged.

— Additional reporting by Apolinari Tairo