MPs pushes for traditional cash crops market

DODOMA: MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) debated the budget proposals for the Ministry of Agriculture on Friday and advised the government to explore all possible measures to create markets for all traditional cash crops.

They emphasised that Tanzanians, mostly smallholder farmers, were investing significant amounts of money in the production process, but when it came to selling their agricultural produce, the prices were not satisfactory.

Traditionally, Tanzania’s traditional cash crops include coffee, tea, tobacco, cashew nuts, cotton, sisal and cloves.

Minister for Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, presented budget estimates in the august House on Thursday, outlining key priorities that his office will implement in the next financial year (2024/2025) and requesting the House to endorse 1.25 trillion in both recurrent and development expenditures.

MPs endorsed the budget later in the evening on Friday. However, before approving the budget, lawmakers expressed frustration over the low prices that farmers receive when selling traditional cash crops, calling for immediate intervention as farmers were incurring high costs on their farms.

Moshi Rural legislator, Professor Patrick Ndakidemi (CCM), expressed concern about coffee farmers in the debating chamber, stating that farmers in his constituency and other parts of the country were experiencing hardship because their products were being sold at lower prices compared to the time and costs, they were investing in their farms.

“Honourable Mr Chairperson, there is a significant disparity between the prices offered to local producers and the international market. Therefore, I recommend that the government explores ways to assist our smallholder farmers who have been experiencing losses for many years.”

He also mentioned that there was a need for an adequate supply of seedlings for coffee producers, stating that the 20,000 seedlings committed by the Minister for Agriculture in his budget estimates were insufficient.

His views were supported by Special Seats lawmaker, Sophia Mwakagenda (CHADEMA), who observed that the prices for coffee producers were unfair. She added that not only were the prices low, but payment was also being delayed for up to three months.

“I urge the Coffee Board of Tanzania to explore ways to assist our farmers in reaping the benefits of their hard work after dedicating significant time to their farms,” the MP added.

The Special Seats legislator also requested the government to reopen some industries that had been shut down in the southern highlands. She emphasised that farmers were struggling to sell their various raw materials from both cash and food crops.

Timotheo Mnzava (Korogwe Rural-CCM) also expressed concern about the prices offered to tea producers. He called for the ministry to develop a strategy to ensure that the product’s price aligned with the global market price.

However, the lawmaker commended the government for the work of the National Irrigation Commission in implementing various irrigation projects. He urged the government to guarantee the commission’s full independence instead of relying on funding from the Ministry of Agriculture.

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