Home Business & TechEconomy Return Substandard Rice Imports To Tanzania Or Reserve It For Livestock – Trade Minister

Return Substandard Rice Imports To Tanzania Or Reserve It For Livestock – Trade Minister

by Jean de la Croix Tabaro
8:33 pm

Late last month, news of fraudulent imports in hundreds of tons of rice from Tanzania to Rwanda dominated headlines of local media.

Some reported import of substandard rice which was attributed to conning from the Tanzanian side while others blamed Rwanda’s importers and speculations continued for a couple of weeks.

At Rwanda television Rwanda’s Minister of Trade Chrysostome Ngabitsinze explained how it all started.

“A couple of weeks ago, the Rwanda’s tax body, Rwanda Revenue Authority(RRA) attracted our attention to unusual massive shipments of rice from Tanzania. That happened at a time when consumers were complaining about the same rice claiming that there was deceit on the quality of rice,” Ngabitsinze explained at Rwanda Television.

Tanzanian rice is packaged and exported by grade, and Rwanda’s market usually knows three grades: one, two and three respectively. Grade one is quality number one followed by grade two, etc. and the unity price differs from one grade to another.

“You could find bags marked ‘grade one’ but when you open, the rice is grade two or three,” Ngabitsinze said adding that the first reaction was to hold the  26 freight trucks.

The next step was to handover to Rwanda Food and Drugs’ Authority(FDA) for laboratory testing to confirm the quality of more than 1400 tons of rice in question.

According to Ngabitsinze, it emerged that over 1200 tons were not meeting the required standards and only 163 tons were meeting the FDA standards.

On these deceit on grades, 1100-ton consignment was rated unclassified because it was way substandard.

“This category was made by small grains that were broken into tiny fragments that couldn’t be graded,” Ngabitsinze said.

In normal practice, when such cases are discovered, the goods which do not meet market standards, including in similar treacherous instances, the importer is required to return the goods to origins.

“We sat with affected traders who apologized for these incidents and pleaded us to find a remedial solution. We agreed that they should correct the packaging and put all the grades in the right bags,” Ngabitsinze said.

“For the substandard rice, there is no option rather than to return the rice to Tanzania. However, we also proposed them to sell it as food for the livestock. We don’t have their feedback yet, but it’s up to them.”

In the meantime, officials in charge of trade in Rwanda discussed with their Tanzanian counterparts on good trade practices, including how Rwandan traders could be connected to good clients from Tanzania.

However, traders in Rwanda could themselves have a share of responsibility in this issue, but they apologized.

They were advised to always crosscheck before shipping because in Tanzania, the FDA can help them.

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