President John Magufuli has began his official state visit to the Mtwara region that is best known for its cashew production.
During the laying of a foundation for the expansion of Mtwara Airport, the President said that 18,103 farmers who had already been verified would receive their payment.
He directed the Treasury to urgently release Tshs.50 billion ($21.7 million) to start paying the farmers who have been waiting for a number of months with their cashew nut stocks already in warehouses. The president clarified that so far, the government has already made payments totaling to Tshs.578.7 billion ($251.6 million) to nearly 99 per cent of farmers, as they had less than 1,500 kilograms of cashew nuts.
The President further hinted that during the verification exercise, at least 390,765 farmers with cashews less than 1,500 kilograms were approved for payment. They had 160, 669.3 tonnes of cashew nuts in total and 373,149 of them have so far been paid, thus 159.865.2 tonnes being already paid for. He further stated that the reason as to why around some 17,616 farmers who had cashew less than 1,500 kilograms were errors in their bank accounts, but assured them payment after the errors were verified.
Government cares about the farmers’ profits
Beside, farmers` payments, the government paid Tshs.5.1 billion ($2.2 million) for logistics, Tshs.1.3 billion ($565,217) for coordination and Tshs.6.6 billion ($2.8 million) for storage facilities.
He also declared that the government does not care about the loss it will encounter on the cashew it bought from the farmers, but rather cares about the profits the farmers will get from the sales citing the Tshs.3,300 ($1.4) government indicative price against the traders` offer between Tshs.1,500 ($0.6) and Tshs.2400 ($1.04).
The President was also lenient on the middle men who had been excluded from the payment on grounds that payment was only to be made to those with farms. He similarly noted that the government had commenced the processing of cashews with 15,000 tonnes as the first batch, and called upon investors to establish more cashew processing plants.
In February, the government admitted that it had yet again failed to beat the February 15th deadline for the verification and payment of all cashew farmers as thousands had been reached. Agriculture Minister, Japheth Hasunga said that a total of 12,378 farmers with more than 1,500 kilograms were yet to be verified. The deadline for verification and payment of all farmers was later extended to March 31st which elapsed last weekend.
Speaking in parliament in February this year, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa directed that the verification and payment of cashew farmers ought to be completed by February 15th. The premier had earlier on set February 5th as the deadline after the government missed the initial deadline set by the president on January 31st.