Only 35 farmers' associations out of over 600 in cashew growing areas have been paid in the last few days. The delays have prompted speculation, with claims that the government does not have enough money to buy the entire delivered consignment estimated to be over 100,000 tonnes.
Some reports suggested that only 700 tonnes had been bought at the price of Sh3,300 per kilogramme as directed, and that the authorities were contemplating recalling private buyers
The country's entire cashew harvest at the end of the season is estimated to be over 200,000 tonnes, meaning that the government must raise some Sh660 billion for the entire produce in Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma regions.
Private companies were locked out when President John Magufuli directed that the government buy the entire harvest and the Tanzania Agriculture Development Bank provide the money required for the purchase.
Some also linked the move by the authorities to confiscate cashew nuts from individuals who are unable to provide proof that they are farmers to the possibility of a shortage of funds with which to buy the season's yields
Yesterday, Agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga said in a telephone interview that the government had sidestepped farmers' associations (Amcos), and was paying individual farmers directly through banks.
"We're still evaluating farmers' particulars because we want to know every farmer, how many tonnes he or she holds and if their stated accounts are real," he said.
Mr Hasunga added that Amcos have been a source of manipulation, and noted that more than 4,000 farmers had been paid by yesterday. The minister denied claims that the government was unable to buy all the cashew nuts that were in farmer's hands.
"Earlier, we had plans to buy all the collected 118,000 tonnes in warehouses, but we've decided to assess farmers' particulars first through their Amcos," he said.
Mr Hasunga added that the verification process was taking long as it had to be precise.
In another development, some cashew growers commended President Magufuli's decision to set the minimum price at Sh3,300 per kilogramme.
They said this would help them avoid exploitation by middlemen. They also appealed for farm inputs to be delivered in good time.
The growers said the prices were likely to be raised by unscrupulous businesspeople after seeing how growers were being paid.
They said this in Mtonya Village, Tunduru District, shortly after receiving their payments.
Tunduru District Commissioner Juma Homera advised growers to purchase inputs and keep them ready for the next season.
"We need to be careful. After receiving
payment, the next step should be to purchase inputs for the next season before
considering other expenditures," he said.