Farm input embezzlers should not be spared
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Editorial
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AGRICULTURE, in most countries is the backbone of the economy, and Tanzania, since it is not an island is not left behind.

The government for many years has been trying to uplift the standards of its people through agriculture, and this has been echoed by the fifth phase government under the leadership of President John Magufuli.

Through agriculture, the country can realise its current dream of turning into an industrialised economy, and this can only be achieved if enough support is accorded to the farming sector.

It is unfortunate that for so many years, unscrupulous characters have been taking advantage of the farming fraternity by exploiting them from acquisition of farming inputs to abusing of pricing of farm produce through treacherous agents.

Recently, the Minister for Agriculture, Dr Charles Tizeba, kicked out three senior officials and at the same time suspended three others over embezzlement of funds meant for agricultural inputs in Geita Region.

It is a commendable move, because it is high time the government rescues farmers from the clasp of these characters, and it is upon the minister to put a spotlight on other regions, because this despicable habit is not limited to Geita only.

In May this year, the minister formed a probe team to scrutinize the situation in Geita, after farmers complained to relevant authorities. In a report published by the committee and handed over to the minister, it indicates that over 1,000 beneficiaries of agricultural inputs, including agents for the 2015/2016 season, public officials at village, district and regional level were implicated in the scam.

According to Dr Tizeba, the government suffered a 29bn/- loss related to agricultural inputs during the 2015/2016 season.

In the same period of time, the committee informed the minister that the government allocated 35.5bn/- for agricultural input subsidies, but the report indicates that after the distribution of subsidies, the debt submitted to the government exceeded the allocated budget for the subsidies for almost 30bn/-.

By acting tough on such individuals, the government will save taxpayers money which in some cases ends up in individual pockets, and at the same time rescue farmers who are in need of the subsidies to better their farming activities.

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