PRESIDENT John Magufuli has directed cooperative unions in Kagera Region to ensure that coffee farmers are paid their dues promptly.
Dr Magufuli, who is the CCM presidential candidate ahead of the October 28th General Election, issued the directive while addressing a campaign rally at the Gymkhana Grounds in Bukoba Municipality yesterday, noting that the money was available.
He said the government was keen to ensure that the farmers enjoy the products of their sweat and promised that if re-elected he will ensure that coffee auctions were held in Bukoba.
“I have received reports that some of the coffee was being smuggled to a neighbouring country where the farmers are paid higher prices. This trend cannot be allowed to continue. We will make sure that the auctions are held here,” he said.
The government has already announced that farmers who collected their coffee through cooperative unions in Kagera Region will be paid 12bn/-.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Gerald Kusaya, made the revelation in Mwanza City where he chaired a meeting that was attended by officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industries and those from Kagera Cooperative Union (KCU-1990 Ltd) and Karagwe District Cooperative Union (KDCU). The meeting was held at the Mwanza Regional Commissioner's office.
Mr Kusaya revealed that during the current crop buying season which started in June, this year, a total of 32bn/- had already been paid to the farmers, being payment for 62,336 tonnes of cherry coffee and 31,168 tonnes of clean coffee collected by unions and primary cooperative societies.
Mr Kusaya noted that the government was committed to ensure that farmers in the country are paid their money, noting that the system used by cooperative unions and Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS) was guaranteed.
He appealed to farmers to be patient as foreign private buyers had shown interest to buy Tanzania’s coffee after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The unions delayed selling the coffee and this resulted in belated payments to farmers. However, the government is ready to bail out the unions through the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB) that will give loans to the unions to pay the farmers,” he said.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industries, Prof Riziki Shemdoe, said in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, they were looking for viable and reliable markets as directed by President John Magufuli.
He explained that private buyers and companies were allowed to buy coffee through cooperative unions and Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Societies (AMCOS), but they should offer attractive and competitive prices.
Kagera Regional Administrative Secretary, Prof Faustin Kamuzora, noted that coffee farmers were getting almost 75 per cent of the world market price, adding that KCU and KDCU were doing a wonderful job to ensure that the farmers were properly paid.
Similarly, he appealed to Tanzanians to drink more coffee to strengthen the domestic market instead of the present trend whereby almost 93 per cent of the locally produced coffee was exported.
The Registrar of the Tanzania Cooperative Commission (TCC), Dr Benson Ndiege, said private buyers were welcome but they should sign contracts with cooperative unions and AMCOS to ensure that the payments benefit the farmers.
He directed cooperative union leaders, especially those in Kagera Region, to ensure that the “First come, first served” philosophy was practiced, by paying famers who sold their crop as was agreed during a meeting attended by the permanent secretaries of the ministries of Agriculture and Trade, and Industries, respectively.
A report from the Tanzania Coffee Board (TCB) indicates that coffee collections during the 2020/21 season had reached 79,245, tonnes (about 73 per cent) of cherry coffee, while the target was to collect 108,000 tonnes.
As for clean coffee, the collections stood at 44,695 tonnes (almost 63 per cent), while the target was to collect 70,000 tonnes.
Farmers were being paid initial payment of 1,200/- for a kilogramme for dry cherry and 1,250/--1,500/- for a kilogramme of parchment.
President Magufuli also directed the Bukoba Municipal Director, Maurice Limbe and the Bukoba District Commissioner (DC), Deodatus Kinawiro, to cooperate with officials of the Lands Ministry to ensure that double allocation of plots in the Municipal Council was stopped.
He said he had reports of complaints by wananchi on double allocation of plots at Kyebitembe area.