We want a review of plantation contracts-Opposition

04May 2016
Felister Peter
Dodoma
The Guardian
We want a review of plantation contracts-Opposition

THE Opposition camp in Parliament has demanded for a review of all the contracts between the government and investors in large farms, claiming that most of them are marred with corruption and are not beneficial to the nation.

Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Magdalena Sakaya

The camp alleged that many investors were given huge ownership stakes in the plantations even though it was known that most of them did not make any major investments in the farms.

Opposition Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Magdalena Sakaya said this in the National Assembly yesterday when tabling the camp’s opinions on implementation of the ministry’s budget for the 2015/16 financial year and projections for the coming year 2016/17.

According to Sakaya, most of the privatized plantations such as Mufindi Paper Mills in Mgololo, Iringa Region, and Kilombero Plantations Limited (KPL) were fully equipped with buildings, production machinery, motor vehicles and tractors.

She said the agreement signed between the government and Korean investor KOTAKO for privatization of KPL through Rufiji Basin Development Authority (RUBADA) favoured the investor as he possesses 95 per cent of all the shares while RUBADA owns five per cent only.

Sakaya said after the deal, the investor opted to sell some of the machinery and leased the farms to villagers.

“Most of these contracts were marred with corruption and were not in the nation’s interest. We want all the contracts to be reviewed for citizens to benefit from the farms,” she said.

She questioned the government’s decision to privatize the farms despite the fact that most of them were performing well. She insisted that the decision was meant to benefit certain individuals and not the nation.

The Shadow Minister urged the government to ensure timely allocation of funds for the ministry, noting that in the 2015/16 year Parliament approved 19.4bn/- for development projects but until March 31, 2016, the ministry have not received any money from the central government.

“Disbursement of funds for development projects should be prioritized,” she said, adding that a total of 10.6bn/- has been requested for the same purpose in the financial year starting this July.

In his presentation, the Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Mwigulu Nchemba said the government was determined to enhance cultivation of cash crops and to ensure reliable market within and outside the country.

Nchemba noted that the production of some crops such as cotton, tea, cashewnut, sisal, sugar, and coffee reached 915,665.9 tonnes in the 2014/15 compared to 897, 028 tonnes produced in the 2013/14 year.

The minister noted that sugar production in the country fell below the target because in the 2014/15 fiscal year a total 304, 007 tonnes were supplied to the market compared to the demand of 420,000 tonnes per year.

“Local sugar producers have failed to meet the demand for two years consecutively as in the 2013/14 financial year the producers supplied 294, 300 tonnes only,” said the minister.

He, however, said projections for the financial year ending June, this year, was 288,802 tonnes but until March 29, this year, a total of 290, 112 tonnes of the sweetener was sold to the market.

To curb the shortage, he said, the government through its Big Results Now (BRN) strategy has identified 294,000 hactares of land for sugar production in Kagera, Kigoma, Morogoro, Mara, Mtwara, Tanga and Coast regions.

On markets, he said the government was in talks with the private sector for construction of market infrastructure and modern warehouses to be built in villages within Songea, Mbozi, Iringa, Nsimbo, Mufindi and Njombe districts.

Contributing, Kangi Lugola (Mwibara-CCM) urged the government to come up with a better system for the supply of subsidized agricultural inputs. He said most of the farmers face difficulties in accessing such inputs due to poor supervision. He said in the past farming season, agricultural inputs worth over 46m/- ended up in the hands of dishonest suppliers.

The minister requested the National Assembly to approve 275, 063, 518, 000/- for the 2016/2017 fiscal year.