Tanzania President John Magufuli Monday deployed the military to buy cashewnuts directly from farmers in the southern region of the country.
President Magufuli rejected offers from 13 firms intending to buy the cash crop and assigned the Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) to buy the produce at $1.43 (Tsh3300) per kilo.
“We gave private traders four days till Monday 4pm (+3GMT) to submit their purchasing plans, but traders have come up with difficult requirements and have so far bought cashew nuts at a price of Tsh3001 ($1.30), with the highest at Tsh3016 ($1.31) per kilogramme, which are not fair to the farmers,” said President Magufuli.
“In two days’ time, farmers should be paid without any hesitation and the process should start immediately,” ordered the president.
The low prices
On Saturday, President Magufuli sacked the Agriculture and Trade ministers and disbanded the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) as the government grapples with how to safeguard farmers from the low prices.
Cashewnuts are an important export for Tanzania but also a major source of livelihood for small-scale farmers in Mtwara, Lindi, Coast and Ruvuma regions.
President Magufuli's intervention came after farmers boycotted the CBT auctions at the prices of $0.7 (Tshs 1,550) and instead wanted at least $1.2 (Tshs 2900) per kilo.
Statistics show cashew nut exports rose to $541.77 million in 2017 from $270.6 million in 2016, surpassing all of Tanzania’s cash crops.
This year’s yield is forecast to reach 220,000 tonnes.