Perhaps for the umpteenth time, we read of delays in delivering agronomic inputs to farmers for one reason or another. This time round, we are told that 4,500 tonnes of fertiliser imported by the Tanzania Fertiliser Company (TFC) are being held at the Dar es Salaam Port pending their clearance out of customs control on payment up-front of about Sh2 billion in import taxes.
This consignment is part and parcel of an order for 10,000 tonnes of fertiliser, the remaining 5,500 tonnes of which were slated to arrive in Dar es Salaam harbour over the weekend.
If and when that happens, it would mean that a goodly 10,000 tonnes of imported fertiliser are stuck at the port at a time when they are needed by farmers in the field.
What boggles the mind is that all the players in this are government institutions: the taxman (TRA) and TFC, a parastatal under the wing of the Agriculture ministry. In this regard, one would have thought that the fertiliser, which has for all practical purposes been imported by the government, would be imported tax-free…
Or – equally propitious – the government should chip in with subsidies. This would not only avoid the fertiliser being held up in port until the taxes are paid by one government institution to another government institution; it would also make the fertiliser more affordable to Tanzania’s poor farmers.
Arguably, the right kind of fertiliser delivered at the right time to the right farmer who then correctly applies same at the right time is bound to result in quality crops yields in chain reaction mode for all-inclusive benefits.
It really is all a matter of carefully applying the measured approach mode to minimise the risks and realise the potential gains to the maximum that’s humanly possible.