Dar es Salaam — The government yesterday said cashew nut production in the 2018/2019 season will hit 275,000 tonnes.
The amount is 38,826.3 tonnes less than the 313,826.386 tonnes produced during the 2017/2018 season.
The new figure is 55,000 tonnes more compared to 220,000 tonnes forecast in early October when the season started.
Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga told The Citizen in a telephone interview yesterday that 163,000 tonnes of cashew nuts were already in government and cooperative union warehouses.
"These are cashew nuts produced in the three regions of Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma alone. Over 100,000 additional tonnes are still in the hands of farmers and in warehouses of agricultural marketing cooperative societies (Amcos).
"Production will reach 275,000 when harvests from other regions, including Coast, Tanga, Morogoro, Tanga, Singida and Dodoma, are taken into account," Mr Hasunga said.
He said the government has already paid Sh50.02 billion to 49,770 farmers from 199 verified Amcos, noting that a total of 228 Amcos had been verified as of Tuesday, this week.
The minister said various challenges had been noted during the verification process, including a number of people who were found with cashew nuts without owning farms and other irregularities.
"Tanzanian laws require people to get licences in order to do business. At the end of verification, these people who have denied the government revenue will be identified and dealt with," he said.
Mr Hasunga said the actual tonnage and identities will be known after completing verification, noting, however, that the challenge was "huge".
He said verification had established that some farmers sold their cashew nuts at the flowering stage and others after harvesting because of family problems that required money.
"Some had patients, others wanted to take children to school and many other problems. Therefore, system transformation is needed to correct these anomalies that have existed for years," he said.
In another development, Mr Hasunga issued clarification on the removal of Mr George Mboji from the Cereals and other Produce Board (CPB) over unethical conduct.
In his clarification, Mr Hasunga said Mr Mboji had been communicating with buyers and promising them that they would be supplied with cashew nuts.
"After questioning him, he admitted to communicating with various buyers, contrary to rules governing public service. I have therefore directed that he be removed from the board immediately. This is something we cannot tolerate," he said.
The government has opted to purchase cashew nuts this season at Sh3,300 per kilogramme in a massive exercise involving the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), Cereals and Other Produce Board (CPB) and the Tanzania People's Defence Force (TPDF).
The exercise is being coordinated by the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.