Zanzibar farmers sorting cloves

As the cloves harvest season nears its end, it has emerged that many farmers are now reluctant to sell their crop to the government.

The government, through its Zanzibar State Trading Corporation (ZSTC) had bought more than four thousand tonnes of cloves at about 61bn/- by January this year, but farmers have now decided to hide their dry cloves in their houses. The Zanzibar government raised the price of cloves from 3,500/- to 15,000/- per kilo in July last year. The increase aimed at motivating farmers and discouraging smuggling of cloves to neighbouring Kenya and elsewhere.

The Zanzibar clove task force led by Regional Commissioners (RC) is now calling upon farmers particularly in Pemba to sell cloves to ZSTC, discouraging them from storing the crop in their homes.  “I am not intending to sell my cloves to smugglers, but I have decided to store them for future sale when I need money,” Omar Hamad, a farmer in north Pemba said.

The executive director of the Zanzibar Clove Producers Organization (ZCPO), Mr Abubakar Mohamed Ali, said that the current regulation prohibiting people from storing cloves in their house was oppressive and should be abolished.  “Most farmers in Pemba are poor and have little knowledge about keeping money in banks. They should be allowed to keep their cloves until they are ready to sell them,” Abubakari said.

He added that even the government’s price of 15,000/- per kilo was still unfair. He said the price at the world market stands at more than 40,000/- per kilo, “that is why the government is worried that if farmers keep their cloves, they may sell to smugglers wholesale in Mombasa, Kenya where the price may be higher.”

By ISSA YUSSUF, Tanzania Daily News

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