Tanzania: How Nfra Guarantees Food Security
By Nelly Mtema
Dodoma — THE National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) has outlined various measures it is instituting to guarantee food security in the country, including increasing its storage capacity from the current 341,000 tonnes to 700,000 come 2025/26.
Other strategies are improving food preservation and warehouse infrastructure and increasing the number of crops being stored by the agency.
NFRA Chief Executive Officer, Milton Lupa said here yesterday that currently the agency has the capacity to store 341,000 tonnes of food, noting that upon completion of ongoing construction of food storage facilities and warehouses the agency storage capacity will be 501,000 tonnes.
“Under the sixth phase government the agency has completed part of the modern silos construction in Mpanda and Babati districts with capacity of 90 tonnes thus boosting the storage capacity from 251,000 to 341,000 tonnes,” he said.
The construction of such infrastructure whose works has reached 85 per cent is also going on in Dodoma, Songea, Shinyanga, Songwe and Makambako and when completed, NFRA storage capacity will be 501,000 tonnes.
“We are planning to boost our storage capacity up to 700,000 tonnes in future by adding 200,000 tonnes as per our investment plan come 2025/2026,” he said.
He said in the past three to five years food reserve capacity was very low… “I want to assure you that we are now in a good position, we have sufficient stock.”
He added: “Plans are also underway to make sure that the food being purchased is being properly preserved in order to last longer. Currently we’re preserving the food in modern silos which can be kept up to five years compared to warehouses where the food can be reserved for three years.”
He said the agency is also improving its warehouse infrastructure because some of them are too old to cater for the current storage needs.
“We want also to have a variety of crops being reserved by NFRA, currently we purchase only three crops which are maize, sorghum and paddy, we want to add more crops because food needs have also changed,” he said.
Mr Lupa further noted that, although the global food security trend indicates shortage of food in some parts of the world, there was no cause for alarm in Tanzania, because NFRA is self-sufficient to address any challenge.
He further said that the agency is well organised to serve the areas which will be identified to be facing shortage of food following ongoing assessment in various parts of the country.
“We are going to serve these areas in collaboration with the department of Disaster Management at the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Agriculture,” he said.
He further explained that in dealing with inflation caused by high prices of grains NFRA distributed 3,000 tonnes of maize, rice and millet in Bunda, Sengerema, Geita, Nzega, Liwale, Nachingwea , Longido, Loliondo and Monduli councils.
Moreover, he said, with the government’s increased budget they have doubled the purchase of grains from farmers to 110,000 tonnes compared to 58,000 tonnes in 2021/22.
The procurement of food stocks starts in July and ends in December with a peak in October. The agency uses buying centres to procure its food stock where producers and/or traders bring their food products for sale.
“We remain a reliable agency, capable of responding timely to food shortages and ensuring availability of strategic food stock in times of shortage by procuring, reserving, recycling and marketing food stock in an efficient manner for community wellbeing” said the CEO.
He said the agency ensures that desired quality standards are attained throughout procurement period and storage time.
The CEO further said that NFRA has been purchasing grains every year at reasonable prices, thus contributing to improving the lives of farmers as a by-product of revenue generated from grain sales.
According to him, the agency has been collaborating with various farmers’ groups and cooperatives by purchasing grains from them and providing various training on grain storage, thus contributing to the strengthening of the cooperative concept in the country.
Expounding further, he said the agency has contributed to the creation of nearly 3,000 employment opportunities, and the implementation of a project to increase the grain storage capacity.
On the role of the private sector, he said the agency has been cooperating with players in discharging its responsibilities by purchasing various services and products including storage facilities, transportation of grain and other goods and services.