Lindi — Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has ordered minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Charles Tizeba to restructure the management and board of directors of the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania in a fresh bid to increase its efficiency.
Addressing resident of Nachingwea District at the Sokoine Stadium on Sunday, Mr Majaliwa said he was not satisfied with the performance of the Cashewnut Board which he said had failed to deliver.
"I am told holding cashewnut auctions are now one of the functions of the board. This is wrong! This business should be under cooperatives. I wonder how the board can manage all cashewnut auctions in the region," he said.
He noted that the board should act as an arbiter in solving complaints among growers in case they were not satisfied with the auctions.
He charged at the board for failing to implement his directive that requires cashewnut buyers to deposit a bond equivalent to 25 per cent of the value of the crops they want to buy.
The board continues to conduct auctions in Mtwara region without requiring bidders to deposit the bond.
He added that the board stopped the auctions in Lindi on Friday after they learned that he would make a tour of the region, because Lindi bidders had not posted any bonds.
"I gave the directive in April but the board has continued to conduct auctions in total disregard of my instruction. Why then did they stop Lindi auctions on Friday? You should have gone forward with the auction contrary to the government's directive," Mr Majaliwa said.
He said it was time officials adhered to government's directives or else step aside.
He also ordered the board to stop forcing cashew farmers to open bank accounts, noting that the management was supposed to educate farmers on the importance of using banking facilities instead of forcing them to.
How can you force a farmer who sells five kgs of cashews to open an account at the cost of Sh100, 000 many times more than his or her income?" queried Mr Majaliwa.
Tanzania is one of the largest cashewnut producers in Africa. It produces an average of 130,000 tonnes of the produce annually. About 117,000 tonnes of the crops are exported to India.
The yield nearly collapsed in the early 1980's but it bounced back later in the decade after economic liberalisations ended the monopoly of the Cashewnut Marketing Board by allowing private buyers.
Further progress came after the warehouse receipt system was introduced.
But problems have continued bedevilling farmers, mostly due to lack of value addition. Most of the cashewnut is exported in the raw form and in poor quality, thus reducing its prices.