President John Magufuli said that TABD should purchase cashew nuts from farmers.
By John Namkwahe
Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli yesterday directed that Sh50 billion be released and paid to cashew nut farmers who have not received payment despite their documents having been verified.
He issued the directive when he addressed Mtwara residents during the laying of the foundation stone for the expansion of Mtwara Airport.
“Farmers whose documents have been verified should be paid without delay,” Dr Magufuli said during the ceremony which was broadcast live by Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation.
The President’s directive came at a time when a section of cashew nut growers who sold their produce to the government were complaining that they had not been paid as promised. The government initially promised that it would have paid all farmers by March 31, but failed to do so on the grounds that verification of claims was still going on.
President Magufuli said the government had already paid farmers in Mtwara Region a total of Sh578.7 billion.
“We could not pay farmers without first verifying the validity of their claims. The process was aimed at ensuring that the money goes to the right people, not ghost farmers.
“We have managed to identify at least 780 people who do not own cashew nut farms. These people bought cashew nuts illegally from farmers,” he said.
President Magufuli added that the government was overseeing the processing of at least 15,000 tonnes of cashew nuts.
Mtwara Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa earlier said that at least 1,244,227 kilogrammes of cashew nuts were harvested during the 2018/19 season, adding that 1,184,300 kilogrammes were sold by cooperative societies.
President Magufuli said the expansion of Mtwara Airport was necessitated by the need to modernise the facility and enable it to handle international travellers.
“This is part of the government’s plan to reinvigorate aviation in the country. Eleven similar projects are being implemented in other regions,” he said.
Dr Magufuli gave the Works and Finance ministries five days to issue advance payment to the contractor, Beijing Construction Engineering Group (BCEG), with a view to speeding up the project, which is scheduled to be completed by September 2020. He said authorities should not hesitate to revoke contracts with contractors who fail to complete projects within the agreed time frames.
Works, Transport and Communications minister Isack Kamwele said the project would cost Sh50.4 billion, and would upon its completion enable the airport to handle up to 1,000 aircraft of all sizes annually.
“Part of the work entails the expansion of the runway’s width from 30 to 45 metres and its length from 2,258 to 2,800 metres,” he said.
In another development, President Magufuli said the government would implement a Sh160 billion water project in the region that would produce over 20 million litres of water daily.
“The government has received a Sh1.2 trillion soft loan from India for water supply projects, particularly in rural areas,” he said.
President Magufuli is on his second visit to Mtwara Region since taking office in November 2015. His first visit was in March 2017.