Shs20bn in cashew farmer debts paid

The government has released Tsh20 billion out of Tsh23 billion it owes cashewnut farmers and service providers for raw cashewnuts (RCN) supplied in the 2018/19 trading season.

Premier Kassim Majaliwa said this last Sunday while speaking with Tandahimba residents and members of the Matogoro Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (AMCOS) in Mtwara region.

“The government has released the money it owes cashew nut farmers in Tandahimba, Masasi, Mtwara and Kibiti. This is for those who are not paid and who paid a half of their money. This money will start to be paid tomorrow (Monday) morning,” said Majaliwa.

He noted that during the verification exercise conducted in Kibiti, Rufiji, Mkuranga, Ruangwa, Liwale, Lindi, Tunduru and all districts in Mtwara region found that farmers and service providers were claiming more than Tsh23 billion.

In 2019, the government also introduced the verification exercise to rid the sector of middlemen whom it believes for so long have dominated the business and caused woes to the cashew farmers.

According to him, farmers in Tandahimba claim more than Tsh9 billion, Masasi claim Tsh2.3 billion and Mtwara rural claim Tsh884 million. Other farmers are in Coast and Lindi regions.

The prime minister said the money comes from a system developed by buyers to milk farmers empty in the 2018/2019 trading season, adding that cashew nut buyers were presenting an offer of Tsh1,500 per kilo of raw nuts instead of at least Tsh3,000, a situation that forced the government to intervene and decide to buy all cashews.

During the event, the Managing Director of Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), Japhet Justine, handed over a cheque of over Tsh9.050 billion to Mtwara Regional Commissioner, Gelasius Byakanwa, who also handed it over to the leaders of Tandahimba and Newala Cooperative Union (TANECU) and Matogoro AMCOS.

Meanwhile, Majaliwa has called on cooperative unions and AMCOS to purchase small cashewnuts processing machines in order to halt selling raw cashew nuts.

“If you process three kilos of raw cashews, you get one kilo of processed cashews. One kilo of raw cashew nuts is sold at Tsh2,400 so, three kilos Tsh7,200. But if you process one kilo, it is sold at Tsh25,000. I urge you to set up small cashewnut processing factories so that we can earn more money,” he said.

He urged Matogoro residents to invest in cashewnuts processing machines from SIDO to increase output as small-scale industrial machines processed good quality cashewnuts of the same quality as those from larger factories.

Premier Majaliwa urged leaders of cooperative unions to supervise the crop’s trading. The new buying season starts in September, running up to December.

He directed cashew nut farmers to change the farming system by planting new seedlings that produce more and take less time to mature.

He also urged farmers to grow alternative crops such as palm trees and sunflowers that grew well in the area to increase the scope of economic activities in the district.

However, he explained that out of the money paid, a total of Tsh3.3 billion has been allocated to exporters.

On November 12, 2018, President John Magufuli said his government would purchase all cashew nut stocks from farmers at a flat price of Tsh3,300 per kilo, doing so through the TADB.

The decision was reached after the government issued a four-day ultimatum to traders to buy cashew nuts.

This was after cashew farmers had rejected prices offered by dealers, which were very much lower than the previous harvest season’s prices.