Minister wants end of embezzlement of cooperative funds

By Guardian Correspondent , The Guardian
Published at 10:08 AM Apr 18 2024
AGRICULTURE Minister Hussein Bashe.
Photo: File
AGRICULTURE Minister Hussein Bashe.

AGRICULTURE Minister Hussein Bashe has directed the Registrar of Cooperative Societies at the Tanzania Cooperative Development Commission (TCDC) Dr Benson Ndiege to immediately end embezzlement of funds in cooperative societies.

Bashe said this here yesterday during the official opening of the 14th general meeting of coffee stakeholders in the country.

He pointed out that the issue of theft in cooperatives in the country needs to stop immediately as it has become one of the reasons for exploiting farmers.

“There are cooperatives whose leaders have taken 200m/- from coffee buyers but they have refused to return the money or give coffee and all that debt is a burden to farmers.

“I instructed the Registrar of Cooperatives that this theft and robbery that is committed in these societies should end immediately and I have removed many DGs of this ministry from their positions because I was telling them like this but they did not take action,” he said.

Bashe said that all leaders who have been involved in theft within cooperatives should be brought to court for the theft and not just allegations as it is now.

“It is very sad to see that the leaders have swindled money and when they are taken to court, they are charged with allegations of minor wrongdoing but the burden of debt is left to farmers while leaders continue to enjoy life in the streets; that is why people like these get hanged in China,” he said.

The minister also said that many cooperatives, despite their leaders being thieves, have been part of exploitation of farmers by setting many levies.

“You find that the cooperative has set a fee for sacks of produce, protection costs, interest on loans and farmers’ monies are being deducted without their knowledge of what percentage should be deducted,” he said.

Prof Aurelia Kamuzora, Coffee Board chairperson, said that the goal is to produce 300,000 tonnes of coffee by 2025 from the current 80 tonnes.

She urged coffee farmers in the country to use an official system to sell their crops to avoid buyers who have been cheating them through cheap prices.

Mariam Ditopile, vice chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Livestock said that they will continue to remind the government to allocate sufficient funds for the agriculture sector.

She added that there is a need to invest in the domestic coffee market to ensure farmers get profit contrary to the current situation whereby unprocessed coffee sold in the international market is added value and imported into the country at higher price.