Speaking at the State House in Dar es Salaam after swearing in top officials he appointed recently, the president said he had learned of the theft during his recent tour in the southern regions of Mtwara and Lindi.
President Magufuli was accompanied in the visit by among other officials, the Acting Director General of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), Brig Gen John Mbungo.
“The farmers’ money was taken by leaders of AMCOS and SACCOS since 2016/17 season,” he said.
President Magufuli said he worked with the PCCB head to ensure that all the money is returned to farmers by cooperatives’ leaders.
“Some 250m/- has already been returned to farmers and we will ensure that farmers get all their money,” he said.
This comes at a time when AMCOS and SACCOS in the cashew sub-sector face financial difficulties emanating from not-so-smooth sales last season after the government intervened and announced it would buy all the nuts.
About 222,000 tonnes of cashew nuts were all purchased by the government at 3,300/- per kilo. The intervention followed President Magufuli’s directive in November last year after private buyers had offered what the government termed as unacceptably low prices during initial auctions.
But payment didn’t go as smooth as expected due to long verification processes. The government has failed to meet several deadlines it has been setting to complete the verification and payment of farmers.
Speaking in Parliament early this year, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa directed the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the verification and payment of cashew nut farmers should be concluded by February 15th.
The premier had earlier set February 5 as the deadline after the government missed the initial one set by the president for January 31st.
Agriculture Minister Japheth Hasunga was recently quoted as saying that the government still owed cashew nut farmers 50bn/-, stressing that the payment exercise was progressing in line with availability of funds.