CASHEWNUT farmers, yesterday, heaved a sigh of relief after traders bowed to President John Magufuli's directive, requiring them to buy the crop at a minimum price of 3,000/- per kilogramme.Some of the farmers who spoke to the 'Daily News' through telephone interviews could not hide their joy and were thankful, saying the move came as a big relief. It was after days of a tug-of-war between farmers and traders over prices, as each part was defending its interests.
The farmers refused to auction their cashew nut at the indicative prices of 1,550/- per kilogramme set by the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT). The crisis saw Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa intervening last week, as he ordered cancellation of all auctions and said the government would meet traders to chart the way forward.
On Sunday, the Premier had a meeting with traders at the State House in Dar es Salaam to discuss the matter. Unexpectedly, President John Magufuli attended the meeting and gave directives for immediate solution to the problem.
The President ordered the immediate resumption of the auctions, with conditions that traders buy cashewnuts at a minimum price of 3,000/- per kilogramme.
Dr Magufuli warned that traders who say they can't buy the crop at that minimum price should quit from the business, saying the government was ready to buy the cashewnuts directly from farmers.
He hinted that he had already started processes for the government to buy the crop from farmers using the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF), noting that he had talked with the Chief of Defence Forces General Venance Mabeyo over the decision.
Following his directive, cashewnut traders agreed to buy the crop at a minimum price of 3,000/-, but requested removal of some levies they were charged that forced them to reduce prices when buying from farmers.
The traders further sought permit to export the cashews abroad via Dar es Salaam Port at which they could get vessels charging low rates to transport the produce to markets outside the country. Upon hearing their concerns, Dr Magufuli agreed to their request to transport cashews through the Dar es Salaam Port where one kilogramme of cashewnut is transported at 47/- against 203/- paid when the same is transported through Mtwara Port. However, he cautioned them not to overload the trucks carrying the cashewnuts from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam and meet all conditions required to transport the produce. The President further agreed to reduce the levy charged by the cashew nuts board from 17/- to 10/- per kilo.
Some farmers from Lindi Region commended the President's intervention and decision reached. Mr Issa Nangwalanya, one of the farmers in Ruangwa District, told the 'Daily News' that he was thankful to President Magufuli, describing him as a President who cares about the interests of the disadvantaged people, particularly farmers.
"Few people wanted to exploit us to their advantage... if thorough investigation is conducted into this matter, I am sure that it would uncover them," he said, adding, "I welcome the decision and I am now ready to sell the cashewnuts."
Another farmer, Mr Miraji Machunga, was also cheerful upon hearing the news saying, "Now I can at least drink some water comfortably, I couldn't sell my cashews at the previously announced prices, considering costs I had incurred in buying farm inputs."
He thanked President Magufuli, noting that they will continue praying for him to live longer and keep on fighting for the poor people. Mr Machunga said he boycotted selling his crop weighing about 9,000 kilogrammes.
Another farmer, Mr John Thiri, was at a shop buying empty bags to pack his cashewnuts ready for the auction, after hearing over the decision.
"As I am speaking with you now a huge number of
my fellow farmers are planning to go to the auctions, this morning," he
told the 'Daily News.'