Govt pledges to strengthen cooperatives

THE government has pledged to continue addressing challenges facing cooperative societies in the country for farmers to benefit more from the associations.

This was said yesterday in the National Assembly by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, adding that cooperatives are very important not only to farmers, but also to the entrepreneurship groups for bringing together farmers and educating them on best farming methods and market search.

However, he admitted that there are still some challenges facing cooperatives in the country, which some of them are caused by poor leadership, where some officials go contrary to what they are expected to do.

He said these officials impose exorbitant levies, giving an example of cashew nut, where some dishonest officials imposed unnecessary levies which affect payments to farmers.

The Premier told the House that the officials take advantage of being the leaders of these cooperatives that is why they impose these levies so that they can make profit, noting that for cashew nut, these officials imposed more than 25 levies, but the government managed to reduce them up to five.

For coffee, the PM said that the officials imposed more than 47 levies and the government intervened and reduced them to only five or six.

“The good thing is that recently the Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, spent a lengthy time to explain about this issue, highlighting the benefits and importance of cooperatives, because if we want to develop the agriculture sector, the cooperatives can never be avoided,” he said.

The PM was responding to a question from Mbozi legislator, George Ranwell Mwenisongo (CCM) during the questions to the Prime Minister session in Parliament, where he said that there was a time when coffee farmers in the country were forced to sell their products in neighbouring Uganda before the government intervened and improved the pricing system.

The prime minister said that the government is still looking at better ways to improve cooperative services in the country, and assured farmers that services will continue to be improved.

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