Non-local firms in Tanzania are now barred from buying agriculture produce directly from farmers.
Instead, the Ministry of Agriculture has directed these firms to purchase produce through auctions and authorised local markets.
“We are aiming to protect both farmers and local companies from low prices and being taken advantage of from foreign companies conducting business in Tanzania,” said Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga in a media briefing.
Mr Hasunga said the restriction does not contravene the East African Community Protocol on free movement of goods because the borders are still open.
“We have not and don’t have plans to restrict free movement of goods, but we have set guidelines to protect our farmers. Foreign traders can buy from a secondary market and pay all dues before they take the goods to their countries,” he told The EastAfrican.
Tanzania targets to store 120,000 tonnes of cereals, mostly maize. The government has also instructed the National Food Reserve Authority (NFRA) to purchase food crops from farmers for storage.
The restriction on buying farm produce also aims to shield the country against a looming food deficiency due to floods that have hit several parts of Tanzania and a looming locust invasion.
With the ongoing seasonal rains, Tanzania has been hit by flash floods for the first week of May. Floods were reported to hit key agricultural regions in Southern, Northern, Central and Western Tanzania with damages to households.
Agriculture in Tanzania has been affected by Covid-19 after major and strategic commercial crops suffered lower prices. Minister for Industry and Trade Innocent Bashungwa said in a report last week that cotton, coffee, tea and tobacco were the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Mr Bashungwa said that Covid-19 prevention and restriction measures taken in key European, American and Asian markets have caused grounding of buyers of Tanzanian cash crops in key markets. He said that travel restrictions had limited buyers from travelling to Tanzania for business.