DODOMA, TANZANIA, The Tanzanian government has lifted the ban which it imposed on maize exports in June, thanks to bumper harvests of this staple crop which have left the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) struggling to purchase and store.

The announcement here this week on the lifting of the ban has come as a blessing to some other countries in East Africa which are struggling with poor harvest s and to Tanzanian farmers who have been complaining over unreliable markets for their produce.

Agriculture Minister Dr Charles Tizeba, debating the 2018 Budget and proposed National Development Plan in the National Assembly here Monday, said the move followed an assessment on the current food stocks against the NFRA budget for maize purchases.

We have buffer maize harvests, which we cannot afford buying exhaustively ... we have opened up doors for exports to allow farmers to proceed with the next farming circle smoothly, said the minister, who, however, noted that the NFRA was still buying maize in Njombe, Ruvuma, Rukwa and Songwe regions (provinces), which have reported plentiful supplies.

Dr Tizeba ordered Regional and District Commissioners to allow for smooth exports of the grain and warned against restrictive hauling of maize consignments from one region or district to another.

Members of Parliament had been complaining that the bumper maize harvests and the shortage of markets had resulted in some dishonest traders using unofficial routes to smuggle the food out of the country.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa imposed the ban on maize exports in June, saying the government was still collecting data on food adequacy in the country before it could lift the export ban. He said the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan had officially requested for maize supplies from Tanzania.

This shows that food situation in the region is not good and if exports continue unabated, we may soon experience serious shortages across the country, Majaliwa said at that time.