Dar es Salaam
Tanzanian cashew nuts growers have a reason to smile after the Cashew nut Board of Tanzania (CBT) and the Cashew nut Industry Development Trust Fund (CIDF) set aside Tsh10 billion ((nearly $6 million) to boost local processing capacity.
Tanzania is Africa's largest cashew nut grower after Nigeria and Ivory Coast, and the world's eighth biggest producer.
According to the 2012 CBT report, Tanzania exported about 158,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts in the 2011/2012 season.
However, although 90% of the crop was harvested in the country, less than 10% was processed locally.
Speaking in Dar es Salaam last week, the CBT Director, Mfaume Juma said there was considerable income being lost in exporting unprocessed nuts.
He said this benefited the buyers who pay low prices for the products in the raw state.
Juma said by exporting processed nuts it would encourage and attract more farmers to grow the crops because they would be assured of higher profit margins.
"We are trying to make sure that we reduce the raw crop export to a larger extent," Juma said adding that both CBT and CIDF would benefit from the initiatives because the processing will take place in Tanzania.
Farmers will now enjoy value addition. For many years, there have been complaints about the low prices resulting from selling unprocessed nuts which has often reduced farmers' income.
According to a pilot study on processing cashew nut done by CBT in Dec 2012, the majority of harvested cashew nuts are purchased raw, exported and processed abroad, mainly in India and then re-exported to different countries around the world at a higher price than the original one.
According to CBT management, farmers can no longer export sales at low prices saying through the value addition Tanzania will be able to fetch higher prices at the world market.
Agriculture Non Status Actors Forum (ANSAF) recently commissioned a research report which shows that if Tanzania's cashew nut sector performed to its full potential, it would create over 45,000 jobs in the country and make a significant contribution to the economy.
According to the Eastern and Southern Africa Agriculture network (ESAANET) cashews provide an important source of income for some 250,000 smallholder farmers in Tanzania especially in the southern coastal region, where the districts of Mtwara, Lindi, and Ruvuma account for 80-90% of Tanzania's marketed cashew crop.
By Kenan Kalagho,
Source: EA Business