“You should arrest the leaders and interrogate them on the whereabouts of farmer’s money,” said the PM insisting the leaders must be detained until the money is recovered.
The monies according to Agriculture Minister, Dr Charles Tizeba were from tobacco sales in 2014.
He gave the directive on Monday when speaking at a rally in Ulowa ward, Kahama district. The Premier is in a five-day visit in Shinyanga Region.
The leaders who were allegedly present at a public meeting disappeared immediately after PM Majaliwa requested that they give an explanation as to how the funds were spent.
The Mkombozi cooperative society under Ushetu AMCOS is led by Shilinde Abdallah (chairman), accountant, Kulwa Shinzi and seven board members.
Earlier when presenting a report on tobacco farming in the district, chairman of the Kahama cooperative union (KACU), Emmanuel Cherehani said that tobacco prices had remained stable in recent years.
Majaliwa warned AMCOS leaders to avoid misusing the farmers’ money insisting to take stringent measures against them. He said the government’s decision of revive farmers cooperative societies was meant to assist farmers to easily sell their agricultural produce.
“We want the cooperative societies to be led by truthful leaders with the ability to protect the cooperative properties,” he noted.
He urged farmers to start saving money for the purchase of agricultural inputs and fertilisers instead of taking them on loans from suppliers. He said borrowing funds for fertilisers and other inputs affects their income as part of the generated income is spent to settle debts.
“You will hardly graduate from poverty if you continue borrowing money to cultivate tobacco. The production cost for an acre of tobacco is 150,000/-, you can save the money in your bank accounts and use it the following season so as to realise benefits,” the MP noted.
Tobacco is among the key crops for Tanzania. It generated some $ 325 m in export earnings (5.3% of the total) in 2016 and creates employment for both farmers and factory workers in the tobacco-processing industry.
Last year, Majaliwa dissolved the Tanzania Tobacco Board (TTB) and several leaders of the Western Zone Tobacco Growers Co-operative Union (WETCU) over suspected embezzlement of funds.