Cashew nut farmers in Mtwara Region have urged the Parliament to pressure the government to pay them before the coming farming season.
The farmers aired their views when speaking at different times with members of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Water in Mtwara`s Tandahimba and Newala districts. The committee Vice Chairperson, Dr. Christine Ishengoma allowed cashew nut farmers to present their complaints before the MPs, regional leaders and the deputy Agriculture Minister, Omar Mgumba.
A farmer from Tandahimba district complained over delayed payments despite President John Magufuli`s directive that farmers should be paid on time. `We have been complaining about our cashew payments for months now, we do not know the exact reasons behind the delay. The Parliament must intervene to ensure we get paid before starting preparations for the next farming season, ` the farmer stated.
Tandahimba district chairman, Suleiman Namkulya was concerned that delayed payments to cashew nut farmers will affect production in the coming season. He said that farmers produced 740,000 tonnes in the 2017/2018 season, but the amount may decrease further this season. He said production is also predicted to be below target following the shortage of pesticides and high prices of the fertilizer which is now sold at Tshs.70,000 ($30.4) per bag.
Tandahimba District Commissioner, Sebastian Waryuba said the government had already paid cashew nut farmers a total of Tshs.104 billion ($45.2 million) out of Tshs.118 billion ($51.3 million). He said the remaining Tshs.14 billion ($6.08 million) would be paid to farmers soon.
Responding, the Agriculture Minister, Japheth Hasunga said the government through the Cashew nut Board of Tanzania (CBT) will ensure timely distribution of pesticides and other agricultural inputs to all the cashew nut growing regions across the country. He said a total of 160 tonnes of cashew was not purchased from the farmers of Newala due to poor quality. He said despite the government`s efforts to purchase the entire cashew consignment, it has not yet sold a single kilogram of the crop.
In November 2018, President Magufuli said that his government would purchase all cashew nut stocks from farmers at a flat price of Tsha.3,330 ($1,4) per kilogram, doing so through the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB). The decision was reached after the government issued the traders a four-day ultimatum to purchase the cashew nuts. This was after the cashew farmers had rejected prices offered by the dealers, which were very much lower than the previous harvest season`s price.
Tanzania ranks among the world`s top eight cashew nut growers and the 4th in Africa after Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Guinea Bissau.
Also read: Tanzania’s cashew nut puzzle still unsolved