Tanzania should do more to scale down imports of its products

Tanzania pays dearly in importing what it could otherwise produce, keeping its population in the verge starvation, local experts say.

It uses only 23 per cent of its 44 million hectares of estimated arable land for cultivation despite being blessed with suitable environment for agriculture, says Donath Olomi of the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Development (IMED)

He says the country’s potential remain untapped as the nation consumes what it does not produce despite having suitable environment for cultivation.

“You might be surprised that edible oil stands at number two when it comes to imports values to this country. As if that is not enough, 90 per cent of wheat being processed here is imported,” he told the Guardian recently.

Tanzania is the world’s 102nd largest export economy in the world and the 114th most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI). In 2014, it exported $6.4bn against $13.5bn worth imports, resulting in a negative trade balance of $7.07bn in a country with $48.1bn and $2.54 per capita income.

Overall, as of 2014, Tanzania’s top exports are gold ($1.37 billion), raw tobacco ($402m), precious metal ore ($366m), other oily seeds ($280m) and copper ore ($244m), using the 1992 revision of the Harmonized System classification.

Its top imports are refined petroleum ($3.42bn), palm oil ($354m), packaged medicaments ($339m), cars ($310m) and wheat ($247m).

The top export destinations of Tanzania are India ($1.09bn), South Africa ($754m), China ($530m), Kenya ($445m) and Japan ($392m). The top import origins are India ($2.55bn), China ($2.32bn), the United Arab Emirates ($1.12bnB), Switzerland ($839m) and Kenya ($646m).

But Dr Olomi faulted Tanzania for consuming what it does not produce in the prevalence of potentials to improve its agribusiness sector through empowerment of its farmers for the output that would lead to reduction of imports of raw products such as grains, cereals and cooking oils.

He said at least 90 per cent of wheat and almost 80 per cent of cooking oil processed by local manufacturers is imported, implying a huge demand of the products that if sourced locally would have a significant social-economic impact.

Demand for edible oil in Tanzania stands at between 200,000 and 300,000 tonnes per year, portraying a wide domestic market and an apparent potential development of the cooking oil industry from groundnuts, sunflowers, palm oil, sesame, coconut and cotton.

Though the latest figures on wheat consumption were not available, Tanzania imported wheat worth $10m from the United States alone in 2013, not to mention Australia and Canada, other major wheat exporters to Tanzania.

This scenario is against the background of agribusiness’ infancy in Tanzania where commercial ventures are found mostly in traditional export crops such as coffee, tea, cotton, cashews, tobacco, sisal and cloves.

According to Denise Wolter study report on “Tanzania – Why a Potential Food Exporter is Still Importing Food”, higher food prices, driven by higher energy costs and rising consumption in developing countries could provide the country with ample opportunities to develop its agro-industry to tap into regional markets.

The report acknowledges that the country’s average food crop productivity is 1.7 tonnes per hectare, while good management and optimal use of fertiliser could result into maximum yields of 4 tonnes per hectare.
Currently, only 15 per cent of Tanzania’s farmers use fertilizers, says the report.

“The use of primitive farming gear, traditional animal husbandry and total reliance on rains hamper productivity,” says the report, adding; “So at present Tanzania does not appear fit to take advantage of its agribusiness opportunities, thus from becoming major food exporter.”

This is against the increase in agricultural imports, with foods including wheat, rice and dairy products taking 80 per cent of total merchandise imports.

But Dr Bashir Ally, a political scientist from Uiversity of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) says Tanzania could become major food exporter amid its daring struggles to meet its own food requirements despite low productivity and the predominantly subsistence farming.

“As a nation we are running a disabled economy,” Dr Ally says, adding; “This is because we have failed to produce what we consume and therefore consuming what we have not produced, turning ourselves into total import-dependents.”

We have fallen into discussing outcomes of our failures to produce as we rely on importation and that importation has led to business manipulations which include syndicates as we have seen this on sugar sector.”

However, Dr Olomi says the government and other stakeholders can still work to reduce imports of produces that could otherwise be produced in the country, citing some organizations are helping farmers get the best out of hard work.

One of such organizations is Farm Africa, which has been helping farmers to grow bigger and better sesame crops, and to market them better to earn higher prices.

“We train farmers in sorting, cleaning and packaging sesame, as well as measuring oil and moisture content to enable better marketing and higher prices,” says Farm Africa in its website. “We support individual farmers to store their harvest in the co-operative warehouse before selling the harvest in bulk. Selling collectively ensures higher prices.”

However, a recent move by the World Bank (WB) could make a huge relief for Tanzania to take vigorous measures on improving its agribusiness. Earlier in March, WB Board of Executive Directors approved $70m in new financing to support Tanzania’s agricultural sector and strengthen it by linking smallholder farmers to agribusinesses.

This will go along the national development strategy the country is currently implementing in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT) Program which seeks to promote agribusiness partnerships to tackle low farm productivity and limited market access that are impeding development of the country’s agricultural sector.

“Smallholder farmers play a central role in Tanzania’s agricultural sector” Bella Bird, WB Country Director for Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia was quoted as saying.

“The SAGCOT Investment Project has the potential to be transformational as it will provide them with crucial access to capital and new technology needed to invest in higher value production, promote their livelihoods and meet their nutritional needs.”

Once implemented, the project will directly benefit over half a million people and engage 40 agribusiness operators, with emphasis on involving women in the successful commercial value chains.

Over 80 per cent of Tanzania’s poor live in the rural areas with limited opportunities to establish links with productive value chains and higher value crops despite the reportedly remarkable economic growth rate of 7 per cent over the past decade.

“Tanzania has achieved demonstrable successes in boosting productivity in the horticulture, rice, sugar and tea sectors,” says Mark Cackler, WB’s Manager for the Agriculture Global Practice. “The challenge is to extend the reach of existing efforts and expand poor farmers’ access to lucrative market opportunities, which are the goals of the project.”

The WB-financed project will achieve its objectives by channeling support through those two entities as well as improving the operations of the Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) which is tasked with preparing and promoting investment projects and attracting private sector investments.

Mt Meru surpasses all


REWARDING employees with gifts is an annual ritual practised by many employers in Zambia.

But Mount Meru Group Zambia Limited has decided to be giving its employees life-time awards.

Departing from the tradition practised by many corporates in Zambia of appreciating deserving employees with certificates, electronic gifts and monetary gratification, Mount Meru has raised the bar by rewarding its star performers with something they never dreamt to receive – motor vehicles.

For a start, the company last Saturday gave vehicles to seven employees as tokens of appreciation to the growth of the Group, which has three subsidiaries – Accer Infrastructure, Petroleum and Millers.

The gesture came against the country experiencing economic turbulence going by the fluctuating Kwacha and falling copper prices on the international market.

Mount Meru Group Zambia director Himanshu Shah said his company decided to emulate Harekrishna Exports Company in Surat, India, which has decided to give these extravagant gifts to its employees to appreciate them for their contribution and hard work.

Harekrishna Exports Company owner and diamond dealer Sabubhai Dholakia believes that the firm owes a lot to its workers for their contribution towards making it profitable.

A list of 1,200 employees is being made out of which 491 have been given a new car each as Diwali gift, while 525 workers have received expensive jewellery with 200 others being given a new flat each.

Mr Shah said Mount Meru has also decided to become magnanimous by rewarding its employees generously.

He said Mount Meru should always be “people-centric” in its dealings with clients because they contribute to the growth of the company.

During the celebrations, the company demonstrated its magnanimity by, apart from splashing out seven cars, rollng out smart electronic goods and offering one month salary bonus to all the employees besides the cash tokens.

David Chaponda, the managing director for Accer, received K100,000 in recognition of his contribution to the company.

Among the recipients of the cars were Dinah Mphaisha, who joined Mount Meru Petroleum on March 4, 2008 as a receptionist and has risen to the position of personal assistant to the managing director.

“I have been awarded twice by the company. This year’s reward is special because it has come with a lot of surprises and it’s encouraging for others to work hard and be appreciated,” Ms Mphaisha, a mother of one, said.

She said the vehicle has been one of the biggest awards so far and it will help a lot because it will be less stressing for her while doing field work.

“Transport costs from home to the office and back will be cut,” Ms Mphaisha said.

Another car recipient, Rita Mwila-Kangwa, an accounts executive who has worked for Mount Meru since August 2011, said apart from the monthly rewards and end of year bonus, “this is my first individual reward”.

“I find it extraordinary and very encouraging. It goes to show that my work is recognised and valued,” Ms Mwila, whose job involves a lot of errands outside work station, said.

“Before, I would need a driver to take me around. Now I can simply drive to wherever I need to go without any bureaucracy,” the 32-year-old Ms Mwila said.

Winfridah Michelo, who has been with Mount Meru since January 17, 2008 and is manager for Farmers Filling Station branch in Lusaka West, said she never thought she would own a vehicle in her life.

The mother of three, who also looks after five nieces and nephews, said the company has graduated her from using public transport to driving herself to work.

With such generosity, Mount Meru Group Zambia Limited is on course to achieving its ambitious goals for growth.

The Group has experienced phenomenal growth in the last seven years, with petroleum being the third largest and millers being the biggest producer of edible oils in the country.

Mount Meru Group rewards workers


MOUNT Meru Group Zambia has given its seven hardworking employees saloon cars in recognition of their contribution to the company.

The group has, apart from handsomely rewarding 18 employees, including a Zambian director, awarded all 1,000 workers a one month salary bonus.

During the company’s annual party on Friday night in Lusaka, country director Himanshu Shah said despite the economic turbulent the country is experiencing in view of the fluctuating Kwacha and the falling copper prices, Mount Meru felt obliged to honour its workers.

Zambian director David Chaponda who heads Acer Infrastructure, received K101,000 as a reward for his hardwork, loyalty and innovation, while seven employees drawn from Acer, Millers and Petroleum were handsomely rewarded with saloon cars in a rare precedent in Zambia.

Other rewards came in form of washing machines, fridges, deep freezers, smart television sets, Samsung home theaters, and microwave ovens, among other prizes.

Mr Shah said Acer has made a huge difference to the group by undertaking 26 projects which range from building filling stations to the on going construction of the head office in Roma Park.

Mount Meru Petroleum has within the seven years of its existence in Zambia risen to become the third biggest, behind Puma and Total, while Mount Meru Millers in Katuba, which has the biggest silo in the region, is now the biggest edible oil producer in the country.

“What we have achieved in this difficult year was fantastic,” Mr Shah said amidst cheers from the excited workers.

He said 2015 is very challenging because of the externally induced crisis such as the fluctuation of the Kwacha and falling copper prices.

“We should be ready for a roller coaster ride, the darkest hour produces stars,” Mr Shah said at an event graced by Mount Meru Group (Africa) chairperson, Tarsem Agarwal.

Bill Clinton And Kagame

Former President of America Bill Clinton listening to Managing Director of Mt.Meru Arvind Mittal (Second from Right) discussing the development of cooking oil by using Soya beans, which is building in Kanyonza town,Kigal in Rwanda in share with Clinton.

Clinton Launch The Contraction Of Tanzanian Company In Rwanda

Tanzanian Company of Mt.Meru Soyco with its head quarter in Arusha become wider, they are now building a factory for Edible Oil using Soya Beans in Rwanda. The factory is building in collaboration between Mount Meru Companies and the former President of America Mr. Bill Clinton who will commence the contract in this week at Kayonzo – East Africa, Rwanda.

According to the information given by MD Mr. Arvind Mittal, the agreement has been made and launched officially during Mr Bill Clinton’s tour to Rwanda early this week.

The launch was also attended by Kagame Paul,President of Rwanda- who says that this cooperation between two side will benefit more than 300,000 farmers who harvest Soya beans in Rwanda.

Managing Director of Mount Meru companies Arvind Mittal from left side explains to former President of America Bill Clinton(Second from right)regarding development of construction of the industry which produce oil by using soya beans, shared between Mount Meru and President in Kigali city Rwanda. Second from left is President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Clinton’s Daughter, Miss Chelsea Clinton.

Former president of America (forth from left) with his host President Paul Kagame of Rwanda(fifth from left)after launching the project of construction of the industry which will produce oil by using soya beans which cultivated from Tanzania. In the picture also present Managing Director of Mount Meru, Mr. Arvind Mittal who is the head of the project.

The Company Enlage Until Rwanda

The company of Mount Meru withthe head quarter is in Arusha city, develop to enlarge their boundaries of business outside Tanzania byconstructing the industry of cooking oil which will be produced by using Soya beans in Rwanda.

This company was built by the collaboration between Mount Meru and Bill Clinton Foundation – headed by the former President of USA.who launching the process official early this week at Kayonza province in West Africa of Rwanda.

The government of Rwanda through ministry of social wildlife and the Authority of district council of Kanyonzaprovince in West Africa of Rwanda are the shareholders of this project which will be expected to benefit people who cultivate in small-scale agriculture.

According to the agreement of the project Mt.Meru Soyco Tanzania collaborate with shareholders in construction of cooking oil industry in Rwanda. Mr. Arvind Mittal said that this project will help millions of people and it will create a good collaboration among private and Government sectors in development of cultivation.

The President Mr. Kagame of Rwanda invited the investors within the country and promised the country to keep good and attractive environment for investors in Economic issue of the country.

Other than investments in Rwanda Mount Meru succeeds to invest in Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda.

Clinton - Mount Meru Contruct Industry Of Oil In Rwanda

The company Mount Meru Soyco with collaboration with former President of USA Bill Clinton fund join hands in an agreement of construction of the industry to produce cooking oil in Rwanda.

In their agreement were confirmed on the begin of this week in city of Kigali. The parliament of Rwanda through National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the Authority of District Council of Kayonza province which is in West of the country they will become shareholder of the project.

Mt.Meru Soyco in Arusha with in collaboration of shareholders, they will produce cooking oil by using soya beans which was cultivated in Rwanda.

Due to launching of a new industry in Rwanda ,The president of Rwanda Paul Kagame said that according to the cooperation of that two sides more than 30,000 farmers will benefit from Soya beans cultivation within the country.

According to the information, Mr. Mittal said that this project will help millions of lives and is a good way of collaboration between private and Government sectors in improvement of the cultivation in Africa.

We as Mount Meru Group feel proud about Clinton collaboration with us by funding in this project of Soya beans cultivation which is produced by the farmers of Rwanda.

Other than investments in Rwanda Mount Meru succeeds to invest in Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda.

27th September – ZaMBIA News Paper

9th August-2014 Zambia

Mount Meru sales of 11.1 million liters in the month of August 2014, Mount Meru Petroleum Zambia Limited is placed at the 3rd largest Oil Marketing Company in Zambia. Please find attached the newspaper article, Mount Meru Team celebrating its success and the management sharing their thoughts on the occasion of the 7th anniversary of Mount Meru in Zambia, on last Sunday.