PRIME Minister Mizengo Pinda has advised farmers in Lake Rukwa Basin in both Rukwa and Katavi regions to sell processed farm produce which is normally more valuable in East and Central African markets.
Mr Pinda was addressing a public rally in Mwamapuli Village in Mlele District. The premier was in Katavi Region on a ten-day working tour, which ended last Saturday.
Mr Pinda said that although rice, which is produced in the Lake Rukwa Basin, was of the best quality has ready markets in East and Central African countries especially in Kenya, Uganda Rwanda, Burundi as well as in Tanzania. But farmers do not benefit fully from their work because they sell the rice in raw form, the premier said.
"Selling rice in raw form ends up benefiting wealthy business people from neighbouring countries who come here to purchase the cheap rice. They later process the rice before exporting it to foreign markets," Mr Pinda said.
"You must wake up now. You have been sleeping for many years. You have been enriching other people at your expense all this time," the premier advised. Farmers in Lake Rukwa Basin, which extends to Katavi and Rukwa regions, are famous for producing rice without applying any artificial fertilizers.
It is largely bought by business people from neighbouring regions and farther afield, and is affectionately known as 'Mchele wa Kyela' as if it is produced in Kyela District in Mbeya Region.
The premier also urged farmers at Mwamapuli Saving and Credit Cooperative Society (Saccos) to use resources at its disposal to increase its capital and have access to the already established Centre for Information for farmers and business people in the area .