Tanzania has now backtracked on its decision to ban sugar importation, a week after freezing the issuance of permits.
The Minister for Agriculture, Mr Japhet Hasunga, told journalists on Wednesday that the government was now content with the plans by local manufacturers to produce more sugar.
“We are now satisfied with the companies’ strategic plans to increase sugar production and that is why we have decided to allow them to supply and import sugar for domestic consumption,” he said.
Last week, Mr Hasunga had accused the factories of importing “sugar very fast, overlooking their role of producing,” adding that a freeze on the issuance of permits would force them to concentrate on production.
Mr Hasunga said the country has enough stock until May, and that permits would be issued to non-sugar producing companies from June to bridge the gap.
The country produces about 320,000 tonnes of sugar against a national annual demand of 670,000 tonnes.
The Agriculture minister, however, expressed optimism that sugar output would increase once Mkulazi Sugar, owned by two leading pension schemes in Tanzania, and Bakhresa Group's Bagamoyo factory with capacity to produce 250,000 tonnes and 100,000 tonnes respectively are complete.
Sugar in Tanzania comes mainly from four companies: Kilombero Sugar Company, majority owned by South Africa's Illovo Sugar, Mtibwa, Kagera, and TPC, a unit of Mauritius sugar producer Alteo.
Bakhresa's new factory is expected to start sugar production by 2021.
Last year, Tanzania banned Ugandan sugar traders from its market, on claims that the sugar was from Kenya.
In January, the government started issuing permits to traders to import sugar from Uganda, only to block it a month later.