Mtwara. The government has so far verified at least 461 Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Societies (Amcos) for payments due to cashewnut growers.
Minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga made the revelations and further asserted that the government had until December 14, 2018 already issued payment to at least 451 out of the verified Amcos.
In addition, a total of Sh133.2 billion has been paid to cashew nut growers in Mtwara, Lindi, Ruvuma and Coast region, revealed the minister.
“We have already paid some of the cashew nut growers. I am optimistic that the process will be completed successfully,” Mr Hasunga said.
Commenting further on the matter, the minister revealed that the government had so far bought at least 178, 049 tonnes of cashew nuts from growers through cooperatives.
“The target is to buy at least 275,191 tonnes of cashew nuts, all of which will be processed locally,” he explained.
He added: “I am told that some of citizens have still kept cashew nuts at home. Let me take this opportunity to urge them to sell their products to the cooperatives before they incur losses.”
Meanwhile, the minister said the government was contemplating announcement of price for second grade cashew nuts.
“We have started receiving second grade cashew nuts from farmers. In Coast Region alone, we have received at least 20,000 tonnes,” he revealed.
In another development, Industry, Trade and Investment minister Joseph Kakunda has issued a two-day ultimatum to owners of cashew nut processing firms to review contracts issued by the government.
He further revealed that only Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) in Mtwara had been accredited by the government to process the commodity.
He further revealed that the government was planning to sign a contract with Buco Lindi cashew nut factory.
According to him, there were at least 23 cashew nut processing firms in the country capable of processing at least 130,000 tonnes per year. He said, however, that only four firms were operational at the moment.
“Our aim is to revive all dormant firms to make sure that the process is complete at the right time as scheduled,” he said.