Tanzania took the matter so seriously that Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Monday visited Minjingu Fertiliser Plant, a few kilometres from Arusha on the Dodoma Highway. This was after it was discovered the company had several 50kg-bags labelled “County Government of Bungoma-Nafaka Plus”.
They had been marked as packaged in Minjingu Mines and Fertiliser Ltd, KenBro Industrial Park, in Nairobi, on Mombasa Road.
The company’s management told Mr Majaliwa that they were packaging the consignment as ordered by their clients.
Bungoma Governor Ken Lusaka has been caught up in a high stakes trade war between Kenya and Tanzania after an Arusha company alleged he had instructed it to label fertiliser bags it was exporting “Made in Kenya”.
The Prime Minister then ordered the company to write an apology letter to President John Magufuli for undermining his industrialisation drive and to withdraw further consignments under the offending labels.
Tanzania’s Industrialisation minister, Mr Abdalla Kigoda, was told to investigate the matter.
Mwananchi Communications quoted the Prime Minister terming the labelling a disservice to the country, as the products were exported. It said Minjingu Phosphate director Tosky Hans had told the Prime Minister that the labelling was a “deliberate move to check counterfeits in export markets”.
“We decided to produce fertiliser for export and labelled the bags according to the countries the consignments were to be sold,” he said.
The PM told the Industrialisation minister to find out what actually happens at the factory as the reason for the labelling was not clearly established. “This is totally unacceptable. If the product is made in Tanzania, it should be so labelled,” he said.
On Tuesday, Governor Lusaka denied buying fertiliser directly from Tanzania. He said the county had an agreement with a company in Athi River that supplies its branded fertiliser.
He, however, referred the Nation to Mr Lawrence Munene, who said he worked at Minjingu Fertilisers in Kenya. He said the issue had been blown out of proportion.
“This is a supremacy issue. The company has cleared the air with the Tanzanian Government and we are aware of the demand for an apology, but there is no legal case,” said Mr Munene.
He said the fertiliser destined for Bungoma even had the Tanzania Bureau of Standards’ logo.
The company’s website does not indicate it has a registered plant in Nairobi, as shown on the sacks. And the telephone number provided did not go through. On its website, the company says it exports beneficiated rock phosphate to South Africa, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.