Dar/Mtwara/Lindi — The purchase of cashew nuts from farmers was delayed for at least one more day yesterday as the government studied available information and finalised other logistics.
Farmers were eagerly waiting for the long-awaited exercise to begin yesterday, but they were asked to wait until today.
It was expected that a total of 75 military lorries would have been deployed by yesterday to transport cashew nuts after private buyers missed Monday's deadline set by the government. But a survey in Mtwara established that the lorries had not yet arrived, with Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga saying there were some logistical issues that were being addressed.
Tanzania People's Defence Force (TPDF) personnel arrived in Lindi yesterday, and camped at the Buko cashew nut processing plant in Mtama Constituency. The TPDF soldiers were led by Colonel Rajab Mabele.
On hand to receive them were Lindi Regional Commissioner Godfrey Zambi and a representative of the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank Limited (TADB), Mr Adam Kamana. The government, through Mr Zambi, officially handed over the Buko plant to TPDF, paving the way for the soldiers to start renovating it.
"We will make sure that this plant will be operational as soon as possible as directed by the President," said Col Mabele, adding that security had also been stepped up at cashew nut warehouses.
For his part, Mr Kamana said: "We must learn not to sell raw produce from the farms. The President has seen this and directed us to address the issue. That's why we are here."
He confirmed that farmers would be paid Sh3,300 for every kilogramme of cashew nuts as directed by President John Magufuli.
"The money is there. We are here to set up a convenient payment system," Mr Kamana said.
Meanwhile, the government said it would review an earlier directive that had prompted strong reaction from players involved in the cashew nut value chain.
President Magufuli had earlier directed that no deductions should be made on money paid to farmers and that farmers should make the necessary payments after being paid.
But the directive has led to complaints among warehouse owners, cooperative unions and others who say that it will hit them hard if implemented.
Mr Hasunga said he would look into the matter.