AUTHORITIES have managed to reduce the level of cotton weight cheating from 34 per cent during 2015/2016 season to seven per cent in 2017 season.
Some farmers have been accused of tampering with the weight of their produce. In August, 2016, at least 30 farmers in Lake Zone were fined 10m/- for tampering with the weight of cotton. The Cotton Board of Tanzania (CBT) said farmers were punished for mixing cotton with sand and other materials to increase weight.
The Mwanza Regional Weight and Measurement Agency (WMA) Manager, Mr Hemed Kipengile, told the ‘Daily News’ that the cheating had dropped after WMA and other stakeholders made follow ups and introduced mobile courts which charged and meted out punishments to culprits.
“The mobile courts helped to address the problems, all famers and traders who were involved in the dirty game were charged and punished accordingly,” he said when he visited various areas that produce and process cotton in the region.
“This time around, the government is prepared to control the quality of cotton. We are going to deal with all traders and farmers who tamper with cotton weight by mixing cotton with sand, stones and other materials,” he warned.
According to WMA boss, during the 2016/2017 season, at least 93 villages were reached by WMA officers for inspection. He added that in 2015/2016 at least 162 cotton buying centres were reached in all cotton growing districts in the region.
Mr Kipengile asked districts’ authorities to oversee cotton production in their areas and make sure there is no problem that may end up affecting the whole business in the region.
He said failure to practice contract farming was the main cause of the problem. “It has been easy to control quality of cotton in areas where contract farming is practised because TCB allocate a particular company to buy cotton from farmers,” he said.
Cotton in Tanzania is mainly grown on small scale farms ranging from 0.5 to 10 hectares, with average farm size being 1.5 hectares. Nearly 99 per cent of Tanzania’s cotton is grown in the northwest, near Lake Victoria.
Simiyu, Shinyanga, Mwanza and Geita are the largest cotton producing regions in Tanzania, with Simiyu Region producing over 40 per cent of the national output.