Rungwe East Member of Parliament, Prof David Mwakyusa has asked the government to ban companies and individuals buying unharvested coffee known as red cherries in Mbeya Region to protect farmers’ and government revenue.
Contributing to the debate on the 2012/13 Prime Minister’s Office budget estimates Prof Mwakyusa said the practice if allowed to continue would keep farmers poor and deny the government revenue.
He said a kilo of red cherries is sold at between 500/- and 800/- contrary to the harvested coffee whose price is over 1000/- per kilo.
“The buyers have been going directly to individual farmers without getting a permit from the district authorities, which is against the law,” he said.
He said as a result there have been increased cases of coffee theft in various farms, threatening peace and security.The MP also pointed out that through the practice the buyers were able to avoid paying the required taxes, thus denying the government income.
“They do not pay taxes because they buy the red cherry coffee directly from individual farmers. This is not good. The government should intervene immediately,” he said.
Prof Mwakyusa said he had talked to various farmers, most of them said the current purchase system was not good.
“Almost 95 percent of farmers I have talked to have rejected the system and asking the government to ban the exercise,” he added.
For her part, special seats legislator Martha Mlata urged the government to support sunflower farmers in the Central Corridor.
She said the crop has helped to change the lives of many farmers and that more efforts are needed to sustain the change.
Farmers have to be provided with modern farm inputs and loans to enable them produce more, she added
Clara Mwatuka Special Seats legislator (CUF) urged the government to remove some of the taxes imposed on the cashewnut crop.
She said such taxes have reduced the income for the farmers, leading to some of them abandoning cultivation of the crop.
She also said there is a need to look for more local and foreign markets for the crop, pointing out that a good amount was still piled up in godowns.
Nyamagana legislator Ezekiah Wenje, (Chadema) urged the government to introduce subsidy for companies dealing with the cotton crop.
He said despite playing a crucial role in the development of the Lake Zone, farmers are complaining.
Wenje also asked the government to investigate some foreign cotton dealers believed to be evading taxes.
For her part, Zainab Kawawa, special seats legislator (CCM) said there is a need to transform farmers into middle income earners.
She said most of the farmers have been living in poor condition yet Tanzania is a rich country which could use her resources to develop its people.
“We have to improve rural roads, execute more irrigation schemes and provide youths with skills in order to bring about village industrial revolution,” she said.