Tanzania: You're Failing Cashew Nut Farmers, Government Told
31 July 2017By John Namkwahe
Dar es Salaam — ACT-Wazalendo and some MPs from cashew nut growing areas have expressed concern for the government's failure to distribute agricultural inputs to farmers on time.
Speaking on separate occasions, the politicians said although the fifth phase government under President John Magufuli had pledged to distribute agricultural inputs to cashew nut growers free of charge very little had been achieved this farming season.
This, according to them, has caused prices of the agricultural inputs like sulphur to rise.
Speaking to reporters during a press conference yesterday, ACT-Wazalendo Publicity and Ideology secretary Ado Shaibu said the price of a 25kg bag of sulphur in Tunduru had increased to Sh80,000 from Sh30,000.
Mr Shaibu said during a cashew nut stakeholders meeting held in Dodoma earlier this year, the government announced that it would start supplying agricultural inputs to cashew nut growers, but it had failed to do so.
This, according to Mr Shaibu, may affect their productivity during this farming season.
"For the country to record good harvest, there is a need to ensure that farmers receive agricultural inputs on time," noted Mr Shaibu.
He pointed out that although the government had been putting in place good policies in the agriculture sector the problem had lied in implementing them.
Mr Shaibu added that there was a risk that cashew nut farmers wouldn't benefit as they did in the previous season due to the government's failure to distribute the inputs on time.
"The Finance and Planning minister told the Parliament in Dodoma that out of Sh100.53 billion, which was set aside for the implementation of development projects, only Sh3.34 billion (equivalent to 3.31 per cent) had been disbursed to farmers by May. This begs some answers," he said.
Nachingwea MP Hassan Masala echoed similar sentiments. According to him, the government had pledged to distribute 1,300 tonnes of agricultural inputs, but it has only managed to distribute 800 tonnes.
This, according to him, has forced some farmers to purchase inputs from traders, who have hiked prices to make profits.
For his part, Mtama MP Nape Nnauye urged the government to ensure agricultural inputs reached farmers on time.
"The farmers would normally receive the inputs before May, but this year, things are different. For example, in my constituency only 200 out of 900 tonnes of agricultural inputs have been distributed to farmers," said Mr Nnauye. Lulindi MP Jarome Bwanausi echoed similar sentiments.
Sulphur is used to control powdery mildew, a fungal disease, which affects the surfaces of cashew nut shoots, leaves, flowers and fruits.
Efforts to reach the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries minister, Dr Charles Tizeba, or his deputy were unsuccessful as they didn't respond to mobile phone calls.
At the end of last year, Dr Tizeba scrapped the Cashewnut Industry Development Trust Fund (CIDTF) and disbanded its management team for mismanagement of funds.
Its responsibilities were immediately shifted to the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT).
Dr Tizeba labelled the CIDTF a "failure" since its establishment in 2010.
The fund was established to add value to cashew nuts and enable growers to earn more from the crop, while setting the base for local processing. But Dr Tizeba said the management had not met any of the objectives for which they were appointed and accused them of also sleeping on President John Magufuli's directives to close any fixed deposit accounts and move the money totalling Sh5 billion to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT).
He explained that despite receiving enough resources, the fund's management team had failed to justify the tax they levied on crop exports and added that the officials had resisted auditing by failing to submit financial reports as required.
According to him, the fund has diverged from its core functions of providing a mechanism through which stakeholders could contribute and finance shared functions for sustainable development of the cashew nut sub-sector.
Others are to assist in areas of input sourcing and distribution, training and extension services, supporting small-and-medium processors, supporting cashew research activities, strengthening the cashew marketing system and investment planning.