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Govt trashes cashew nut rot claims

THE government yesterday dismissed as baseless claims that the cashew nuts currently stored in warehouses have decomposed and degraded to low quality.

Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Cooperatives, Innoncent Bashungwa (pictured) told the National Assembly here that the quality of the nuts remains intact and that the produce in store will get the right buyers.

“Efforts are still being made to ensure that all cashew nuts get the right buyers and farmers are paid effectively,” he said. Debating, Deputy Minister for Livestock and Fisheries Abdallah Ulega also dismissed claims by Kibamba Member of Parliament (MP) John Mnyika (Chadema) that piles of cashew nuts that failed to attract buyers were decomposing in warehouses.

In fact, Mr Ulega said there was no way cashew nuts could decompose, insisting that the only effect that could cripple the produce if stored for long time is shrinking and loss of original weight.

Earlier, Rombo MP (Chadema) Joseph Selasini said that it was important for Speaker Job Ndugai to form a special committee to inspect and verify the quality of cashew nuts currently in warehouses.

He also proposed for the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) office to investigate the quality of the produce to quantify the loss that the country is likely to incur.

Winding up the ministry’s budget estimates for 2019/2020 fiscal year, Agriculture Deputy Minister Omary Mgumba said despite the budget constraints, the government remains committed to continually improve irrigation schemes countrywide.

“It is true that we are facing limited budgetary allocation but still we are making efforts to improve irrigation systems in the country,” Mr Mgumba said, adding that the plan is to widen coverage to reach at least one million hectares from the current 400,000, which are under irrigation schemes.

He however said the ministry had engaged the CAG office to investigate irrigation schemes and it was discovered that some of them had failed to deliver. Mr Mgumba said the ministry has also formed the team to probe the failure, insisting that appropriate actions will be taken against all those who have rendered the irrigation schemes worthless.

The deputy minister further said that the ministry was currently conducting a review of regulations governing the National Irrigation Commission (NIRC) whose activities were shifted to agriculture from the water ministry.

Agriculture Minister Japhet Hasunga told the house while tabling the ministry’s 2019/20 budget estimates that the decision to shift NIRC activities from water to his portfolio among reasons that led to the budgetary increase by 83.65bn/-

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Author: NASONGELYA KILYINGA in Dodoma

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