The government has been urged to increase funds and human resources to statutory institutions dealing with weights, measures and standards in order to avoid cheatings and to help increase income and upgrade livelihoods of farmers.
This recommendation was delivered by some agricultural stakeholders in central corridor during a roundtable discussion convened to share research findings on implications of standards, weights and measures in transactions costs in agricultural value chains.
The discussion which was called over the weekend by the Dodoma based Rural Livelihood Development Company (RLDC) and supported by Alliance Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) attracted some members of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade and Industry and general public.
Presenting the research findings to MPs, Charles Ogutu who is a consultant with Management Associate (MRA) said in a statement that there is no enough staff and funds to contain the situation.
“We have found the shortage of staff and inadequate budget hinder smooth close supervision of weights and measures leading to cheatings hence denying farmers income,” he said.
The report recommended increasing funds and human resources to statutory institutions such as WMA, TBS and TFDA.
It was also discovered that there is no self regulating mechanism and most produce are sold at farm gates using unstandardised measures. The research was carried in two districts of Dodoma and Mbeya regions.
“We found that there are no adequate efforts to inform and educate farmers and other value chain actors on standards,” he said.
He said as a result such acts have contributed to reducing income to farmers by between 43 per cent for maize and 48 per cent for paddy.
More public awareness and education on weighing scales among farmers is needed while the government is required to provide initial weighing scales through farmer’ groups and Saccos.
The government was also urged to review policy on crops and market access fee so that the basis of charging should be on weight and not on number of bags.
Debating the matter some Committee Members pledged to continue advising the government to increase human resources and financial support in the fight against poor standards and weights and measures which has been facing many farmers countrywide when selling their produce.
Stella Manyanya a special seats legislator for Rukwa region said still the problem of overweighting and measures, popularly known as ‘lumbesa’ is still there despite the law and regulations.
“We understand that the problem is there, but we will continue to advise the government to add more staff and funds in order to fight it,” she said.
She said farmers and the government have been denied their rights particularly in terms of income when it comes to standards and weights.
According to her most traders want to buy maximum quantities packaging popularly known as ‘lumbesa’ and resell at a higher profit leaving farmers with less profit.
Conchesta Rwamlaza, a special seats legislator for Kagera region said there is a need to continue educating farmers on the use of illegal weights and measures practiced by traders.
She urged RLDC and its partners to work together with officials of Weights and Measure Agency (WMA) to contain the situation.
“We will forward this issue to the responsible government organs for further actions in order to increase income for our farmers,” she added.
For her part, Ester Midimu, (Special seats legislator Simiyu region) proposed more actions to be taken to all people who tamper with weights and measures.
She said there is a need to educate farmers on people who could tamper with those machines in order to avoid cheatings.
Midimu also insisted on regular checks of vehicles which exceed farm produce luggage and take stern measure against the culprits.