Dar es Salaam — For the umpteenth time, President John Magufuli yesterday instructed government institutions to release pending payment to cashewnut farmers for last year's season.
In his recent tour of the Southern region, the Head of State gave similar instructions.
It was not made clear why his orders had not been acted upon even as marketing of fresh crop this season opened last week.
In September the minister for Agriculture Japhet Hasunga announced in Dar es Salaam that the government owed farmers some Sh50 billion in outstanding claims for cashew deliveries.
In the last season the government locked out private buyers and assumed the responsibility, offering farmers Sh3300 per kilo of cashews, accusing the private players of underpaying the farmers.
However, it will soon run into cross wings as it could not secure quickly buyers for over 200,000 tonnes of cashews it had collected. According to the government, the crop was only recently sold for a price it did not divulge.
Complaints among farmers persist that the government is yet to pay them. This season, private players have been allowed back.
Yesterday President Magufuli directed the ministry for Finance to issue Sh40 billion to finalize farmers' payment.
A State House statement said Dr Magufuli issued the instruction while meeting officials from the ministry of Agriculture, regions, districts and government institutions dealing in cashew production and trade.
The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa.
"President Magufuli also instructed regional and district executives to ensure the money reached farmers and not otherwise. Also, he directed them to unsure only eligible farmers were paid."
He expressed dissatisfaction with officials in whose areas money was reportedly stolen through Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Societies (Amcos).
The statement indicated Sh1.23 billion had been stolen, with Sh375 million recovered in Lindi region alone by PCCB.
Regarding cashew auctions, Dr Magufuli directed that bids be opened between 8am and 4pm to allow for transparency.
The first cashew nuts auctions took place on Thursday in Newala and Masasi towns with over 20,000 tonnes sold at between Sh2,409 and Sh2,559, a kilogramme, a drop of 24.7 per cent over the price offered by the government last year.
Today, Lindi Mwambao will hold another auction in Chiuta Village and tomorrow cashew auction will be held in Ruangwa under Ruangwa, Nachingwea and Liwale Cooperative Society (Runali).