Mwanza. — Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Eng. Chistopher Chiza has challenged Weighs and Measures Agency (WMA) and the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) to deal with unscrupulous cotton dealers who tamper with weighing scales at the expense of farmers.
Opening the Annual Cotton Stakeholders meeting on Saturday, Minister Chiza blamed the two authorities for remaining adamant while farmers keep on complaining about theft through tampered weigh machines.
He said the cotton sub-sector was now facing a lot of challenges resulting in its poor contribution to the economic development, adding all stakeholders are to share the blame and wake up.
"It is now common that problems facing the crops are all brought to the ministry while there are regulators who are legally empowered to take action and solve them.
WMA are to deal with the tampering of cotton weighs," said the irked minister. According to the minister, the cotton, popularly referred to as 'white gold' should immediately regain its position in national income generating ratios, but warned all parties concerned including the government itself must play their part effectively.
He mentioned other challenges like application of inferior seeds, inputs and insecticides calling for the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) to provide clear guidance on those areas.
On seeds, Eng. Chiza said he was aware that more than 15,000 cotton farmers suffered great loss last season for using Quiton seeds ordering the Board to arrange the compensastion to all affected farmers. He said there are a lot of confusions on the quality of the Quiton seeds and that it was up to TCB to make sure the company supplies quality seeds and not otherwise.
Other issues raised by the minister included regular complaints on the contract farming system which is now tried in a number of cotton growing regions calling for more farmers education on the same.
"Intensive seminars have to be conducted not in halls like this but in the farmers villages and farms on the importance of the contract farming and the government was ready to inject some funds for that matter," he pledged.
He also asked cotton stakeholders to honour their financial commitments to the Cotton Development Trust Funds (CDTF) as the government injects 2bn/- into the Fund to reduce its debit totalling 6bn/- The outgoing TCB Board Chairman, Dr Festus Limbu, said low productivity is seriously affecting the cotton sub-sector, citing regular change of the prices in the world market as another snag.
He also blamed the dependency on rains only in absence of irrigation technology and unrealiable availability of quality inputs, as issues to be given required attention in solving the problems facing the sector.
Mwanza Regional Commissioner (RC), Eng. Evalist Ndikilo, said the cotton growing districts this year are expecting good harvests of about 28,500 tones as opposed to last season when only 23,000 tones were harvested.
"That is due to the application of modern techniques like contract farming which is being implemented in Misungwi, Kwimba and Sengerema districts," he said.