Some members of Parliamentary Committee on Trade and Industry have pledged to continue advising the government to increase human resources and financial support in the fight against poor standards along with verifying weights and measures, a problem that has faced farmers countrywide when selling their crops.
Eng. Stella Manyanya, a committee member, made this remark when contributing at a round table discussion convened to share research findings on implications of standards, weights and measures in transaction costs in agricultural value chains.
The discussion was called by the Dodoma based Rural Livelihoods Development Company (RLDC) and supported by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), attracting over 30 participants.
Eng. Manyanya (Rukwa-Special Seats) said still the problem of overflowing volumes and excess weights and measures known as ‘lumbesa’ is still there despite regulations to the contrary.
”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.
Farmers and the government have been denied their rights particularly income when it comes to standards and weights, the legislator intoned.
Most traders want to buy maximum quantities packaged in the ‘lumbesa’ way and resell at high profits leaving farmers with little earnings, she asserted.
Conchesta Rwamlaza (Special Seats-Kagera) said during discussion that there was need to continue educating farmers on the use of proper weights and measures and not those practiced by traders.
She urged RLDC and its partners to work together with officials of the Weights and Measures Agency (WMA) to curb the use of illegal measures and weights.
“We will forward this issue to responsible government organs for further action in order to increase income for our farmers,” she stated.
For her part, Esther Midimu (Special Seats- Simiyu) proposed more actions to be taken on people who tamper with weights hence deny income to the farmers.
She said there is a need to educate farmers on people who tamper with those machines as this leads to cheating.
She similarly urged regular checks of vehicles which carry excessive crop luggage and taking stern measures against the culprits.
Committee chairperson Mahamoud Mgimwa said the discussion was an eye opener for most MPs.
“We were not aware about some of the weights and measures for such products as charcoal. This is a serious issue which hurts farmers financially, so more efforts are needed to check it,” he said.
Presenting research findings to MPs, Charles Ogutu, a consultant, said that no self regulating mechanism exists and most produce was sold at farm gate using unstandardised measures. The research was carried in two districts of Dodoma and Mbeya regions.
“We found that there is little effort to inform and educate farmers and other value chain actors on standards,” he said.
As a result such acts have contributed to reduced income for farmers by about 43 per cent for maize and 48 percent for paddy, the consultant indicated.
It was recommended to increase funding and human resources to statutory institutions such as WMA, TBS and TFDA.
More public awareness and public education was also urged, and the government was required to provide initial weighing scales through farmers’ groups and Saccos.
The government was also urged to review policy on crop cess and market access fee so that the basis of charging should be weight and not the number of bags.