MINISTER for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga has issued a 14-day ultimatum to the Cereals and Mixed Produce Board (CPB) to finalise payments for all cashew nut farmers who sold their produce during the 2018/19 trading season.
The minister issued the ultimatum to the Board’s Director General, Dr Anslem Moshi over the weekend, when he inspected the board’s activities in Arusha Region.
According to the minister, CPB was assigned the task of buying cashew nuts from farmers during the 2018/19 trading season on behalf of the government.
Mr Hasunga pointed out that the government disbursed all the money for paying cashew nut farmers but the board was yet to finalise payments.
“Within 14 days, I want the board to complete payments to all farmers. I will not be ready to hear any further outcry from farmers. I am stressing that the payments be finalized within the timeframe I have specified,” he stressed.
On Thursday evening, President John Magufuli said the government had cleared all arrears it owed cashew nut farmers for the 2018/19 trading season.
According to the Head of State, the government had paid more than 800bn/- to cashew farmers and the pending 20bn/- was released last week.
He made the revelation to Nangurukuru residents in Lindi Region, during a stop-over en-route to Dar es Salaam from Lupaso Village in Mtwara Region where he attended the burial of the third phase President Benjamin Mkapa.
"The government has already released 20bn/- , which was pending to finalise payment to cashew nut farmers for the previous season... I don't expect any other claims," Dr Magufuli was quoted as saying.
He warned that the payments were meant for genuine farmers and not middlemen known as ‘kangomba’ who were exploiting farmers.
Dr Magufuli added that the money was released after the government finalized the verification exercise on all claims.
During the 2018/19 season, the government announced that it would buy all cashew nuts from farmers after the traders announced a low price.
Last week, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the government had released 20bn/- for clearing farmers’ arrears.
During the working tour of Arusha over the weekend Minister Hasunga directed the board to submit its work plan on how all industries owned by CPB would resume production of products that are in high public demand.
The CPB owns a number of crop processing and packaging firms in the country, including silos in some regions. He also ordered CPB to classify the cadres of the workforce needed for smooth operations of its industries.
The minister directed Monaban Company that had hired one of the CPB industries to implement government directives issued last year that required the company to remove its assets from one of the crop processing industries as the court case had been concluded.
While inspecting the crop processing plant in Arusha, the minister established that there was acute shortage of staff to ensure smooth operation of the plant and that some equipment and parts of the firm had worn out.
He ordered the refurbishment of the buildings to start this month instead of October as it was planned earlier.
He said as part of the plan to implement an industrialization drive, it is the government‘s intention to revive all its industries to add value to cereal crops to produce various products, including flour for export.