THE government has directed regional and district commis- sioners to intervene and act on the theft of farmers' money after a recent audit report un- covered over 120bn/- loss in Agricultural Marketing Co- operative Societies (Amcos) countrywide.
Giving the directive yes- terday, Deputy Minister for Agriculture Hussein Bashe said all leaders involved in Amcos theft as discovered by the Cooperative Audit and Supervision Corporation (Coasco) recently would be held accountable regardless of their social and political status.
The deputy minister said although the Cooperative Act, 2013 restricted regional and district commissioners from supervising coopera- tive unions, reported financial mismanagement in many Amcos could not be left without any intervention from them.
"Although the current law prohibits regional and district commissioners from direct involvement in the operations of these unions, they have to take action on all reported theft allegations and report them at once," he said.
would see to it that the Cooperative Act, 2013 was reviewed to address challenges facing the subsector, direct- ing all Amcos to stop keeping cash money and pay farmers through banks. Following the reported theft, Mr Bashe said a special probe had been formed to look into the matter and disclose all scandals facingAmcos leaders countrywide and all regional commissioners in cotton producing regions would be tasked to implement the findings.
The state of leadership in Amcos dominated the agenda at the meeting, which was attended by cotton stakeholders and almost all regional and district commissioners from gold producing regions.
One of the main topics was on the education qualifications Amcos leaders must possess before assum- ing office with many members sug- gesting they should be rereviewed.
Maswa District Commissioner, Dr Seif Shekalaghe, proposed regular audits in Amcos so that many of the flaws were put to light before it was too late.
He accused Amcos leaders of asking for and taking bribes from farmers before paying them as well as selling pesticides to private agro- dealers, thus causing a serious shortage.
He also proposed the Cooperative Act, 2013 to be amended to protect the farmers.
However, contributing to the matter, Tarime Rural MP John Heche (Chadema), said reviewing education requirements for Amcos leaders was not all that important, stressing that they only needed to be ethical.
"I think low education among these people should not be an issue as such. What should be insisted is integrity and marketing strategies of cotton and the rest will be easier to handle," he said.
Director General of the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) Marco Mtunga said there was a bright future for cot- ton only if the government gave more funds to ensure expected performance was reached.
He also stressed the digital regis- tration of all cotton farmers, strength- ening of extension services, while cotton prices should be driven by market forces as opposed to impos- ing indicative prices.