Dar es Salaam. Cashew farmers have expressed concern over delayed payment for raw cashews auctioned in the new season contrary to directives issued by the government.
Farmers concerns come at the time reports of the six auctions show that 151,574.164 tonnes of the product worth over Sh406.330 billion have been auctioned as of December 8, this year.
Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga told journalists ahead commencement of the 2019/20 season that farmers will be paid not later than ten days after the auctions.
However, claims arise from most farmers that majority of them were yet to receive payments for cashews sold in the second and third auctions respectively something that have negatively impacted their social and economic plans.
“The outcry comes from almost all farmers from cashews growing regions,” said the Tandahimba Farmers Association (Taffa) chairman, Mr Faraji Njapuka.
Mr Said Rashid from Mnatambe Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society (Amcos) in Newala District said auctions have entered the sixth round without many farmers being paid.
“We are not aware of reasons leading to delays because the government committed to pay us four days after names of eligible farmers have been released,” he said, adding.
“Delays have caused serious inconveniences and discouraged many farmers in the district.”
Mnavira Amcos member in Masasi District, Mr Bakari Nyasa attributed delays to forgery by Amcos leaders, failure to secure enough packaging materials and poor record keeping.
“Farmers cannot be spared from blame as they provided inaccurate bank account details, hence reducing banks payment speeds,” he said.
Further reports from Mtwara say Amcos members from Mtiniko, Mshikamano and Lubangala have also lodged complaints of delayed payments to the CBT. Reached for comments, the Cashew nut Board of Tanzania (CBT) acting director general, Mr Francis Alfred confirmed claims of payments delays.
“Regional cooperatives leaders should have something to comment because they are the ones charged with overseeing Amcos which cooperate with banks in disbursing money in the farmer’s accounts,” he said.
Mr Alfred said farmers they have released phone number 0232 333 536 for farmers to communicate payment grievances for them to take swift measures.
Mtwara regional assistant registrar of cooperatives, Mr Juma Mokili said the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) convened a meeting in November 25, 2019 in order to address the challenge.
“Some banks were found to have lacked branches in remote areas and that some farmers have been accused of providing inaccurate bank accounts something escalated delays,” he said, adding.
“It was however resolved that payments should be accelerated and allow farmers to individually communicate individual payment concerns for immediate corrective measures.”
According to him, the problem has significantly reduced and that a lot is still being done.
But, report for auctions carried in the first six weeks show that 151,574.164 tonnes of cashews worth over Sh406.330 billion have been sold countrywide.
They have been sold by the Tandahimba and Newala Cooperative Unions (Tanecu) and Masasi and Mtwara Cooperative Union (Mamcu) in Mtwara Region, Ruangwa, Nachingwea and Liwale (Runali) Cooperative Union and Lindi Mwambao from Lindi Region.
Other cooperative unions are; Tunduru Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Union (Tamcu) in Ruvuma Region and Coast Region Cooperative Union (Corecu) Coast Region.
The Tanga Cashews Cooperative Union (Tacacu) and the Morogoro Cashews Cooperative Unions (Mocacu) have collected insufficient produce that will have to be shifted to Coast Region for auctions.
According to report, 20,898.543 tonnes worth Sh51.91 billion was auctioned in the first week, 31,850.69 tonnes valuing over Sh82.134 billion in the second week and 29,837.96 tonnes costing Sh81.580 billion in the third week.
Furthermore, report shows that 28,081.23 tonnes worth Sh77.204 billion was traded in the fourth week, 22,087.99 tonnes equals to Sh60.112 billion and 19,828.65 tonnes equivalent Sh60.112 billion and Sh53.34 billion were sold in the fifth and sixth weeks respectively.
The cooperative unions and respective cashews sold in bracket are as follows; Mamcu (61,152.455 tonnes), Tanecu (49,102.594 tonnes), Tamcu (13,487.313 tonnes), Runali (14,623.914 tonnes), Lindi Mwambao (12,504.244 tonnes) and Corecu (703.644 tonnes).
Speaking on report, Mr Alfred said though the amount collected was close to 225,105.638 tonnes traded last season, fears are high that 290,000 tonnes projected this year would be met.
“Weather has been unfriendly in some parts of the country including Coast Region where some 5,000 tonnes have been destroyed by heavy rains,” he said.
However, this paper understands that delayed preparations in some areas, inadequate and untimely supply of agricultural inputs due to various reasons could be other causes for declining production.
Report also unveils shortage of storage bags as one of the major challenge leading to low amount of the produce that have entered the market as compared to amount in the Amcos warehouses.
“The quality of the produce is also affected due to use of improper sacks and storage at inappropriate warehouses for a long time,” report says.
Joint efforts to address the challenge by the contractor Dirma Holdings, district councils and cooperative unions.