banner

Tanzania threatens to deploy army in cashew nut crisis

Tanzanian President John Magufuli on an official visit to Kenya in 2016Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

President Magufuli has accused traders of trying to rip off nut farmers

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has sacked both the agriculture and trade ministers, and threatened to deploy the military over a cashew nut crisis.

Traders have been given a Monday deadline to buy crops from famers at an approved price, and not below.

If this does not happen, Mr Magufuli said he will send dozens of military trucks to collect the entire crop.

Cashew nut exports are a major foreign-currency earner for Tanzania.

Farmers have for weeks been refusing to sell their harvests, arguing that the private traders’ offers are too low.

On Saturday, Mr Magufuli accused traders of attempting rip off thousands of farmers and ordered them to increase their price offers to around $1.3 (£1; €1.15) per kilogram (2.2 pounds).

The president says he is working to ensure thousands of farmers get a fair price for their cashew nuts and also so that the country does not miss out on vital export earnings.

He added that if he is forced to deploy the army to round up the supplies of cashew nuts, his government will buy them.

  • Tanzania riots over cashew nut payments
  • Seed planter helps sesame farmers in Tanzania

Following the sackings of the agriculture minister, Charles Tizeba, and the trade and investment minister, Charles Mwijage, Mr Magufuli appointed two other ministers and four deputies.

He has also disbanded the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) and has revoked the appointment of the board chair, Anna Abdallah.

This is not the first time that the country has suffered such a crisis.

In 2013, riots by cashew nut farmers and other protesters in southern Tanzania led to some 20 properties being burned down.

The trouble began after traders began paying farmers less for their crop than had been previously agreed. As a result, police were deployed to the region to stop further unrest.