Compensation to farmers ruled out

a cotton ginnery 
The government yesterday ruled out the possibilities of compensating farmers for fluctuating prices on agricultural produce, citing financial constraints as a big impediment.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Christopher Chiza, instead pushed for increased productivity in agricultural production as the best option to mitigate the adverse effects of price instability.

“Although the government has good intention to see farmers getting good prices on their produce, but the fact remains that the government is incapable of compensating farmers every time the prices of their produce fall,” Mr Chiza told the ninth cotton stakeholders meeting here.

The minister attributed low productivity to snubbing of good farming practices by cotton farmers. He said although majority cotton growers in the lake zone are also livestock keepers, they have not utilized animal dung for fertilizing their farms.

He directed the Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) to prioritise irrigation farming, saying the government has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an Indian company, Jain Irrigation Systems, under which Indian experts will collaborate with local counterparts in farming cotton in Kigoma and Lake zone.

“I have directed experts in my ministry to ensure that the problems that haunted the cotton irrigation project at Bugwema (in rural Musoma district) do not recur,” said the minister. Heated debate ensued on the cotton price for the forthcoming crop buying season, with farmers, buyers failing to reach consensus.

While farmers vowed never to sell their produce at below 1,000/- per kilogramme, buyers ruled out the possibilities of paying over 500/-. 

The government through TCB advised the two rival sides to settle for 700/- as opening price. Stakeholders, especially farmers, spoke emotionally, accusing politicians of politicizing the meeting for their personal political gains.

“I came here believing that this meeting belonged to us (farmers), but all I see here is a battleground for politicians trying to exhibit their muscles... this is nonsense,” charged Mr Elias Mabuba, a Bugwema-based farmer. Prices, contract farming and inputs were the contentious issues that dominated the one-day meeting.
Source: The Daily News,http://dailynews.co.tz, reported by Masato Masato in Mwanza
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