Cooperative unions reforms loom in the country

TANZANIA Coffee Board (TCB) in collaboration with the Registrar of Cooperative will from next month start undertaking reforms of cooperative unions in the country to protect farmers’ interests.

Minister for Agriculture, Mr Hussein Bashe said while addressing the 13th National Coffee Stakeholders Meeting here that the reforms should be enacted as studies reveal that the main challenge facing smallholder coffee farmers lies in poor leadership, misappropriation of funds in cooperative societies and cooperative unions across the country.

“The main problem facing farmers across the country was poor leadership of AMCOS and Cooperative Unions in the country,” he said.

Citing an example, he mentioned the Mbozi District with many AMCOS compared to the required number including those owned by family members.

“There are some cooperative societies leaders who took loans from financial institutions without informing respective members when it comes to repayment where they are forced to pay them.

There are some cases whereby some cooperative societies are operating as companies without respective members knowing something illegal,” he said.

Mr Bashe said all to be employed as leaders and experts in AMCOS and Cooperative Unions should be people with integrity and well educated to properly negotiate with financial institutions on matters of credit.

On improving the rate and volume of production and distribution of the new varieties of coffee seedlings which gives higher yields per unit area he said plans are underway by the government to establish four Tissue Culture Laboratories which will produce in masses coffee, banana and avocados seedlings later to be distributed to farmers for planting in their farms.

“We have to make sure that we have many of the new varieties of coffee seedlings at least to cope with countries like Ethiopia and Uganda whose annual production of such seedlings stands at 176 million and 100 million respectively. Ours is still a mere 20 million of such seedlings” he said.

He praised all stakeholders present in this meeting for their efforts which made the country realise a coffee production of 82,491 tonnes in 2022/23 the highest ever recorded production ever since independence.

“This record is good and pleasing however, this should increase in 2023/24 as there is no reason at all for the same to decrease. I won’t tolerate that as all the required resources are present,” warned the Minister.

Talking about extension officers he said it was a pity to note that around 80 per cent of such officers given motorcycles by the government to enable them to reach farmers in the village are still in their respective district headquarters.

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