Tanzania: Cashewnuts Saga Hots Up

Cashew nut farmers will know their fate over the marketing crisis, following the end of a four-day ultimatum given by the government to prospective buyers to buy the crop.

. . . Govt readies army to intervene if traders grow cold feet

WITH hardly a day left before the expiry of an ultimatum given to cashewnut buyers to submit their purchasing plans, the government has stepped up preparations to chip in, by readying the army, in case traders grow cold feet.

The new twist comes after President John Magufuli yesterday inspected 75 trucks owned by the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) that have been prepared to haul the cashewnut from farmers in case buyers registered by the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) will fail to show up by tomorrow, Monday 4pm.

The trucks that have the capacity to carry 1,500 tonnes at once are parked at the National Service's 95KJ General Abdallah Twalipo Camp at Mgulani in the city and are prepared to carry the crop from Lindi, Mtwara, Ruvuma and Tanga regions.

The buyers were instructed by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Friday to use the four days (between Friday to Monday) to submit to his office letters that state the quantity and the day they are planning to purchase the cashwenut, adding that no trader who hasn't filed a letter, will be allowed to buy the cashews from famers after Monday 4pm.

Speaking to army officers who were present during the inspection, President Magufuli, who is the commanderin- chief of the armed forces, said if the traders will not adhere to the order issued on Friday by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and buy cashewnut at not less than 3,000/- per kilogramme, the government will purchase the crop even at a higher price.

"If they will not show up until Monday, then the government will buy the crop from farmers using TPDF and the Cereals and Other Produce Board of Tanzania (CPB) by even above 3,000/- price per kilogramme that was agreed before," he said.

In a statement that was released yesterday by the Director of Presidential Communications Gerson Msigwa, Dr Magufuli explained that after purchasing the cashwenut, the government will look for market and the remaining portion will be processed for internal and external market.

"I want to assure farmers that the government is there and will continue to fight for them, and by Monday 4pm the government will buy all the cashewnut if the private buyers will be yet to declare the intention and quantity they are ready to purchase," insisted Dr Magufuli.

The decision, he said is necessary to be taken following the buyers' boycott even after the talk that was held on 28th of October, this year, at State House in Dar es Salaam, where they had agreed to buy the crop at not less than 3,000/- per kilogramme.

President Magufuli said during their talk, the government agreed with the buyers to purchase the cashews at 3,000/- per kilogramme instead of 1,900/- and 2,700/-, unfortunately only 14 out of 37 registered companies showed up in the recent auctions, saying even their purchasing speed wasn't promising.

"I'm happy that our TPDF is ready to chip in this operation that can be termed as operation cashews. I have been told that there is over 210,000 tonnes of the crop, and the stores in Lindi and Mtwara are capable to keep 77,000 tonnes while those in Dar es Salaam can carry over 99,000 tonnes. My hopes are to see this exercise completed as soon as possible," he said.

He also challenged the TPDF through the National Service to start thinking of establishing a cashewnut processing factory by even using government money, saying this will enable the country to stop selling the raw cashews abroad.

According to him, it's better to have our own factories that will be adding value to the crop at the same time create employment opportunities to locals.

Earlier, on his welcoming note to President Magufuli, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) General Venance Mabeyo said TPDF has prepared 75 trucks that will carry 1,500 tonnes of the cashews and some other 500 tonnes will be carried in Military ship that is able to land anywhere along the shores of the ocean.

"So, this is to assure you Mr President and the Commander- in-Chief of the armed forces that TPDF is ready to implement this task," he said.

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