Sunday, 13 May 2012

Agriculture council favours strong farmers’ associations


Written by FINNIGAN WA SIMBEYE
CASHEWNUT growers need a strong association to rival processors and middlemen who cash on their weak organization, according to Agriculture Council of Tanzania (ACT). ACT Executive Director Janet Bitegeko said in Dar es Salaam over the weekend that processors and middlemen have formed strong cartels to exploit smallholder cashew nut farmers.
“We know that cashew nut farmers are fighting against strong forces and we are supporting them to form a strong association to deal with processors and middlemen,” Ms Bitegeko said while responding to questions relating to payment problems facing cashew nut growers from editors and senior reporters.
Ms Bitegeko said through the cartel middlemen and processors hold cashew nut farmers hostage by manipulating market forces to lower prices against those announced by Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) that regulates the industry. “As it stands now, cashew nut farmers are very weak compared to processors who have a strong association,” she underlined.
Recently, the board accused Cashewnut Processors Association and middlemen of sabotaging indicative prices announced for the season. CBT Branch Manager in Dar es Salaam, Mumi Ayubu accused middlemen and CPA members of being behind a go slow in buying the commodity from farmers because of increased indicative price from 800/- to 1,200/- per kilogram.
Responding to criticism from Indian importers of the local cashew nuts who accused the board of frustrating a smooth season due to price disputes, Mr Ayubu said, “There might be problems with information about the prices of cashew nuts. We are worried with the middlemen who are used by Indian traders to buy the crop,” said Mr Ayubu.
He said the Indian traders had no direct contact with the board, hence, falling prey to middlemen that profit from unfair prices charged on the Asian nation’s importers. Indian cashew nut processors complained against hiked prices of the commodity from between 900-1,000 US dollars to over 1,500 US dollars per ton which was above the 1,100 US dollars, the highest price per ton.
Because of the stand-off caused by price disputes, cashew nut farmers in southern regions of Lindi and Mtwara have been protesting delays in getting their second installment payment for the season. Last season, cashew nut farmers produced over 150,000 metric tons of the commodity.
Original Article Here

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