PM orders overhaul in cotton industry management, funding

25Dec 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
PM orders overhaul in cotton industry management, funding
  • Dissolves government-sanctioned trust fund, shifts all its responsibilities including money matters to the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB)

THE government has formally scrapped the Cotton Development Trust Fund (CDTF) and ordered an investigation of all individuals who are linked to the squandering of monies within the fund.

Speaking at a cotton stakeholders meeting in Shinyanga over the weekend, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said all responsibilities vested in the CDTF will be assumed by the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) for the time being.

He said the decision is also based on the discovery that officials of the trust fund have not been carrying out their mandate as they should, and instead have been performing functions that overlap with the TCB.

“They (CDTF officials) have done nothing to bring a positive impact to cotton farmers directly. That’s why we are doing away with CDTF and staying with TCB,” Majaliwa stated.

The premier directed the Minister for Agriculture to investigate precisely how much impact, if any, the CDTF has had on the cotton industry so far.

“TCB should have the ability to provide answers to any questions related to the industry, rather than having another entity like CDTF providing answers on their behalf,” Majaliwa said.

CDTF was established by TCB in mid-1999 with the aim of involving cotton stakeholders in initiatives to restore order in the industry, following the emergence of a host of problems caused by liberalization of agricultural markets and government withdrawal from direct involvement in production and trading during  the 1990s.

Prior to its dissolution, the trust fund was made up of six members; two representatives from cotton farmers, two representatives from cotton ginneries, the TCB chief executive officer, and a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture.

In December last year, Agriculture Minister Charles Tizeba made a similar decision to suspend the Cashewnut Industry Development Trust Fund (CIDTF) and order an investigation into the fund’s spending trend.

Tizeba said at the time that the move stemmed from increasing complaints regarding how the fund was being managed.

Tanzania aims to produce 150,000 tons of cotton in 2017/18, and currently competes with Zimbabwe to become the biggest cotton producer in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2016/17, the country produced an estimated 122,000 tons of cotton, a big drop from the peak 2005/06 season when production of the cash crop hit close to 400,000 tons.

The main reason for production since falling to below half of that has been attributed to local farmers being put off by declining cotton prices.

At least 300,000 farmers across the country cultivate the fibre each season, but that figure could double when weather and commodity prices become conducive, according to TCB analyses.

The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) has reported that Tanzania exported cotton worth $46.8 million (over 100 billion/-) last year, up from $30.2 million in 2015.

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