The Parliamentary Accounts Committee, PAC, under the chairmanship of the Bariadi East Member of Parliament (for the United Democratic Party), Mr John Cheyo has critically examined the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperative and says it does not like what it sees inside! The committee says there are all tale-tale signs of existence of massive corruption and flouting of rules and regulations governing good business practice in the ministry which supervises what is arguably the biggest employer in the country. The agricultural sector in Tanzania provides livelihood to 80 percent of the 43m population that accounts for half of the nations domestic gross product (GDP). Existence of massive corruption and flouting of rules and regulations governing tendering processes was first exposed at a meeting held at the parliaments sub-office in Dar es Salaam on March 21st 2011 between members of the PAC and experts from the ministry led by their Permanent Secretary, Mr Mohamed Muya. Areas that appeared to be heavily affected by corruption are those that deal with agricultural inputs and small tractors popularly known as power tillers. During the meeting, Mr Cheyo said for two consecutive years, the ministry of agriculture, food security and cooperatives has been getting very poor reports (qualified) from the Controller and Auditor General, CAG. He said this gave a picture of the ministrys weaknesses in discharging its duties as far as supervision of its plans and implementation is concerned. For instance, he said, the CAG report had shown a loss of 135bn/- in agricultural inputs. This means that the input did not reach the intended target, peasants and farmers. Mr Cheyo said this was a very serious issue, especially if one considered the fact that the ugly development happened just when the nation was busy implementing what has come to be known as Kilimo Kwanza programu (agricultural first programme). Kilimo Kwanza programme was first unveiled at the start of the first phase administration of President Jakaya Kikwete as part of his ruling partys (Chama cha Mapinduzi-CCM) Election Manifesto. Apart from misuse of vouchers that had been set aside for the purchase of agricultural inputs, the second area affected by corruption was that that dealt with power tiller tractors. It is important to note that a whopping 13bn/-had been spent on power tillers and conversely, Mr Cheyo said 13bn/- had been set aside for the purchase of the small tractors. Unfortunately, a dirty game has been introduced in the exercise by those who had been given the task of dealing with the project. As a result, we would not like to hear this project again because the truth is that it has not benefited its intended target, the small farmer, Mr Cheyo said. In the eyes of the committee, we see power tiller as nothing more than a project for benefiting district commissioners, divisional secretaries and village executives rather than poor, small scale farmers. In short, the project has left villagers to continue to suffer as the ministry watches, without taking legal steps against the culprits. We would therefore like to say the following, we are fed up with continued thefts and these must now be brought to an end, he said. The Member of Parliament for Nkasi who is also one of the PAC members, Mr Ali Kessy Mohamed, said since the government started buying power tillers from abroad, the equipment have not been of any benefit to the peasants. He said power tillers cannot be used as means of transport. And what is worse, they are inappropriate for agriculture activities apart from being a burden to the nation. He said one of the reports showed that officials in the ministry of agriculture, food security and cooperatives entered into contract with one of the manufacturers who produced below standard power tillers which were inappropriate for agricultural use in the country. We need to know why the company that goes by the name of Confee, allegedly from South Africa, was engaged when evidence showed that the company was not registered even in the country where it was reported to come from. Secondly, it is important to know what steps have been taken against the official(s) who signed the contract with the company, said the Nkasi Mp from the ruling party. Involvement of companies such as Confee by high placed Tanzanians both in the government and the ruling party is not knew in the country. It would be recalled that the same style was employed in engaging unregistered companies that had no fixed abode such as Richmond and Dowans. It is an open secret that the foregoing companies have led to untold problems for Tanzania in the energy sector (read more about these companies in the CTS). The continued recurrence of unregistered companies that have no fixed abode like Richmond, Dowans and now Confee only goes to show that this is not done accidentally, but is a result of well executed template by people who are not only well versed in the murky trade, but are greedy men bent in harvesting where they had not sowed, hence sabotaging the nations economy. Another PAC member, Ms Zainabu Vullu said it was illogical for local governments to buy power tillers when they knew that the central government had set funds for the same purpose. We would like to know where local governments get money they have been using in buying power tillers. Is the money drawn from their budget or the same money that had been set aside by the central government for the tractors? If local governments are using their own money, when there is already a budget for the tractors from the central government then this is the best example of misuse of taxpayers money. What is more, this is nothing but part of corruption, she said. The other side of the problem, she said, was that power tillers had failed to do the job they had been brought in the country for, hence forcing peasants and farmers to revert to animal power in their agricultural activities. Responding to questions raised by the PAC members, the permanent secretary in the ministry, Mr Muya, said problems raised notwithstanding, his ministry had tried its level best to play its role in the countrys agricultural endeavours. He said the official who had engaged the company that exported power tillers to Tanzania had retired but the ministry would report him to legal institutions for further action. The PAC directed the ministry to stop importing power tillers from the controversial company immediately and to ensure that from now onwards they get clean financial reports. It would be recalled that a popular Kiswahili weekly, Raia Mwema, issue number 173 of February 16th 2011 carried an extensive report on sabotage and flouting of rules and regulations governing good business practices revolving around agricultural inputs for cotton crop. The nature of sabotage involved distribution of fake insecticides, called DuduAll, for cotton crop. The distributed pesticide is actually used for killing insects that attack cabbages as opposed to cotton crop. According to the Kiswahili weekly, the fake pesticide is distributed by a Chinese company, Hangzhou Agrochemical Industries. And reports have it that the company has already distributed the fake pesticide to four districts of Urambo and Uyui in Tabora Region, Maswa in Shinyanga Region and Kwimba in Mwanza Region. Further reliable reports have it that the DuduAll insecticide is not in the list of pesticide that have been approved for use for killing insects that destroy crops in the United Republic of Tanzania. The absence of the DuduAll insecticide in the list of approved pesticide for use in the country was laid bare by a letter with reference number TCB/CDTF/3 dated January 17th 2011 which was written by Cotton Board Authority to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives. The letter advised all district councils in the country to ensure that they adhered to rules, regulations and procedures governing importation of pesticides for use in the country so that only approved chemicals are imported and distributed for use for all crops that include cotton. The letter further directed the distribution of the list containing all government approved pesticides for use against insects and diseases that ravage cotton crop to all district councils in the country. aThe letter also directed all district commissioners in the country to ensure that no one violates rules, regulations and procedures governing both pesticides and agricultural inputs related to cotton crop. The letter further stressed the need for district leadership in the country to ensure that only pesticides that had been approved by the committee tasked to deal with matters relating to pesticides/vouchers for purchase of agricultural inputs was distributed for use in their localities. Twenty sixe district commissioners from Mara, Kagera, Tabora, Mwanza, Singida, Kigoma and Shinyanga were given a list of pesticides approved by the government for combating insects and diseases that attack cotton crop so that they could weed out imported fake pesticides. Although DuduAll was specifically made to deal with diseases that ravage cabbage, the effectiveness of the pesticide even for the cabbage crop was not known as it had not been approved by the government. Legally, for a given pesticide to be approved for use in the country, it must undergo tests by the Arusha based Tanzania Pesticide Research Institute, TPRI. Interestingly, when the distributors of the DuduAll were queried over which institution had tested the pesticides effectiveness, they claimed that it had been tested at Same, Kilimanjaro Region. Later the Kiswahili weekly discovered that there was no TPRI branch in Same District. The Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Professor Jumanne Maghembe admitted, during the interview with the Kiswahili weekly about the distribution of fake pesticides. The minister also admitted that the TPRI had no branch in Same District, a response that clearly showed that the Chinese company had lied. Meanwhile consignments of government-subsidized pesticides waiting to be distributed to those in need in the countryside are lying in stores across the country with no end in sight over their fate. Therefore the governments effort to improve agriculture through Kilimo Kwanza programme that has seen 666.9bn/- in 2009/2010 financial year being increased to 903.8bn/- in 2010/2011 financial year will remain meaningless until and unless the Kikwetes administration deals, once and for all, with corruption. What is interesting is that government officials that include ministers and permanent secretaries only react to problems, and they only do that when they are put in a corner by the media, the Controller and Auditor General-CAG or parliamentary committees such as the PAC. For instance, when the minister responsible for agriculture was put on the carpet by Raia Mwema over distribution of fake pesticides, he could not say what steps his ministry was taking over the issue. The same thing came to pass when his permanent secretary, Mr Muya, was cornered by the PAC over the engagement of an unregistered company in dealing with power tillers. He said they would report to legal institutions the man responsible for the scam who had since retired. The point is, had the PAC not queried Mr Muya over the issue, no one would have bothered the retired official!