PM orders prosecution of indebted tobacco buyers

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa has directed that any tobacco buyer who has not paid farmers should be subjected to legal action, including taken to court.

He issued the directives yesterday in Tabora Region while speaking to Cooperatives Societies, Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (AMCOS) leaders and Tobacco growers from Urambo and Kaliua districts.

“The government encourages tobacco growers to profit from the industry since tobacco in Tabora Region greatly boosts its economy. It is often crucial to safeguard AMCOS and make sure they thrive,” he said.

The Premier said that the government will not hesitate to take legal action against anyone who is found to be undermining Cooperatives or AMCOS in the country because it is determined to improve it.

An AMCOS is a small local cooperative society which provides for the local purchase of agricultural input supplies and helps the farmer market their crops. In Tanzania, they provide the farmers with local services that are lacking in most areas.

He instructed Cooperative leaders countrywide to meet with the farmers and cooperate with them to solve their problems.

The Prime Minister has also directed local government officials to monitor cooperative activity in their regions and make sure that there are no disputes, thefts, or unfair treatment of farmers. “There should be action taken for those who will undermine farmer rights,” he said.

Likewise, Mr Majaliwa used the occasion to remind cooperative authorities in the nation to carry out the directive he issued last year to create a database of farmers which will help the government identify farmers and facilitate service delivery.

Some of the tobacco farmers who spoke at the gathering thanked President Samia Suluhu Hassan for continuing to provide them with fertiliser, which has helped them boost their agricultural productivity.

They also requested that agricultural inputs be sent on time so that they can meet their output objectives and request extension officers to visit them early instead of waiting until harvest time to give them advice.

National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data shows tobacco production went down from 60,692 tonnes in 2016 to 50,522 tonnes in 2018.

However, yields abruptly rose to 70,824tonnes the following year before recording another declining trend of 37,546 tonnes in 2020, which is equal to 47 per cent of the fall.

The trend adversely affected Tanzania’s earnings which declined from 783.8bn/-  in 2016 to 339.4bn/- in 2020.

Tanzania Trade Development Authority (Tantrade) statistics show that the price of tobacco per kilogramme went down from 4,663/- in the 2016/17 season to 3,543/- in 2020/2021.

At the beginning of this year, the Tanzania Tobacco Board (TTB) unveiled plans to revive production in Ruvuma Region, including revitalising a processing factory, Sontop in the region.

Tobacco has been grown in Tanzania since the 1950s and remains a designated strategic export crop cultivated under contract farming arrangements with the main markets being Indonesia, India and Pakistan.

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