THE Tanzania Cotton Board (TCB) has maintained it will vigorously deal with illegal practices facing the subsector particularly dishonest crop agents as it faces acute shortage of manpower to fully execute its functions.
Board’s Director of Regulatory Services Mr James Shimbe told reporters at the Nane Nane pavilion here at the weekend that TCB was facing hard time in providing extension services and other regulatory functions with limited staffing.
Giving an example, Mr Shimbe said the Board of late had an operation area of 46 districts in 15 regions cotton producers all served with only 20 inspectors that are part of total 73 staff with a small number compared to the workload.
“We are facing serious shortage of manpower to effectively execute quality operations ahead of industrial drive that depend on availability of extension services and technology in the agricultural sector notably the cotton subsector,” he said.
He pleaded for the government to increase staff allocation for the Board citing an area of inspectorate and regulatory services to be able to cover such a huge operation area.
Mr Shimbe said the circumstance was even doubtful with districts that had no cotton inspectors at all but the Board was fighting hard to combat the situation by conducting inhouse training.
To start with all the inspectors are trained to double as extension officers who will again be tasked to train some skilled farmers on the basics of extension services.
On the illegal practices in the cotton subsector, Mr Shimbe said the Board has tightened the nuts on dishonest agents who used to cheat during the crop buying seasons and supply of chemicals which has motivated farmers to increase yields from last season.
He recalled that for many years some agents and farmers used to contaminate cotton with water in order to increase weight unlawfully thanks to the mobile courts that have punished them as soon as they are detected and arrested with some being sentenced up to ten years.