October 28, 2016
BENEDICT TEMBO, Mongu
WHEN African Development Bank (AfDB) Zambia country office agricultural expert Lewis Bangwe met takeholders for the Cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP) workshop in Mongu last week, it was like any other talk show. However, at the end of his three-day tour of duty, Mr Bangwe raised a lot of hope among cashew nut growers because things started happening faster than the workshop participants anticipated. “[There was] so much hope that, after the workshop, the procurement immediately started on very important aspects such as vehicles,” Stan Simwaka, chairperson of the Simbangala Cashewnut Group, said.
At the time of the workshop, US$700,000 was already sitting in the account somewhere for the procurement of vehicles while the establishment of the project implementation unit is underway. The AfDB has set aside US$45 million for reviving cashew nut production in Western Province. The continental financial institution has prioritised cashew nut production in Western Province as part of economic diversification and poverty reduction.
Mr Bangwe said stakeholders want to see cashew nut taking over from copper as the biggest foreign exchange earner. Cashew can fetch not less than US$10,000 per tonne on the world market. Angola, Mozambique and Tanzania, and some West African countries like Gambia are some of Africa’s biggest producers of the wonder crop which is full of anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals which are required for the normal functioning of the body.
The CIDP is targeting 60,000 smallholder farmers, including 30,000 (50 percent of whom should be women) and 7,000 youths, each planting one hectare (100 cashew trees or six million trees). About 6,000 full-time jobs (3,000 women and 1,000 youths) are expected to be created along the cashew value chain from production, processing to marketing.
The development goal is to contribute to the country’s economic growth and food security. The objective is to contribute to poverty reduction, improved household incomes through enhanced cashew nut production and processing. The project is in line with the Vision 2030, Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP: 2011-2015) and National Agriculture Policy (NAP: 2004-2015).
Mr Bangwe said of the US$45 million, about US$12.95 million (23.4 percent) has been set aside for cashew plantation rejuvenation and establishment. Under this, the programme to be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, aims to re-establish canopy of existing cashew plantations through working with improved clones of up to 2,000 hectares province-wide. Mr Bangwe said 8,000 hectares of existing cashew plantations will be rehabilitated while 7,000 hectares of bare old cashew plantations will be replanted.
About 43,000 hectares new cashew farms/plantations will be established. The project, to be implemented over a period of five years, will create cashew hubs in Mongu, Limulunga, Senanga, Kalabo, Nalolo, Sikongo, Shangombo, Sioma, Lukulu, and Mitete districts. The 10 out of the 16 districts of Western Province have been selected based on high potential for cashew nut production, less frost problem, high incidence of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, and vulnerability to environmental degradation and climate change.
A total of US$1.94 million (about 3.5 percent) has been dedicated to conducting the training needs assessment. he Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders in the CIPD project will receive project-related training including materials. There will also be training for cashew nut processers and smallholder farmers.
Mr Bangwe said to share experiences, selected farmers and extension officers will participate in international study tours to Mozambique and Tanzania which are doing very well in cashew nut production.
There will also be local inter-district study tours for farmers and project staff. Mr Bangwe expects government workers to be able to participate as drivers and a link between the communities (district
agricultural coordinators) and the projects implementing unit. This unit has not yet been established.
The project intends to offer support to the cashew value chain through irrigation infrastructure for cashew nurseries and clone gardens, cashew plantation rejuvenation and establishment, and infrastructure for cashew nut processing and marketing to the tune of US$41.67million (gobbling almost 75.2 percent)
There is a component of capacity building for training, technical support, and matching fund coming to US$7.26 million (about 13.1 percent of project money).
Project management, including project coordination, monitoring and evaluation will gobble US$6.49 million (almost 11.7 percent). Under the project, 217 kilometres of access roads leading to key cashew infrastructure sites will be rehabilitated, one irrigation system will be developed for the main cashew nursery at the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute in Simulumbe and renovate one set of existing structures at the research station will be renovated.
The project will also develop eight irrigation systems for clone-gardens and associated structures. A total of three irrigation systems for public demonstration nurseries, located at Namushakende, Nangwesi, and KalaboFarmer Training Centres, will be developed, including renovation of some existing structures. Eight irrigation systems for community nurseries and associated structures will be developed. The project will establish 50 community demonstration cashew plots of one hectare each.
Under technical support that will gobble US$2.83 million, the project hopes to develop a quality control management system to enhance the cashew nut product. It will also assess the gender roles along the cashew value chain and support gender mainstreaming activities.
The Seed Control and Certification Institute will receive support for quality cashew seedlings while the Natural Resources Development College will produce a cashew focus curriculum. The University of Barotseland will be supported to establish cashew focus curriculum and support Zambia Agricultural Research Institute to carry out gender-sensitive cashew adaptive research.
A cashew and agro-processing expert for technical assistance will be recruited, so will gender and environmental specialists be engaged as short-term consultants to implement environmental and social issues including mitigation.
Western Province permanent secretary Mwangala Liyomba said the cashew sub-sector has been facing various challenges leading to slow growth of the industry due to low production of raw nuts, lack of improved planting materials, poor management practices, pests and diseases, as well as lack of marketing and processing facilities, among others.
Mr Liyomba is happy that the CIDP will address the challenges by supporting cashew value chain infrastructure such as feeder roads, irrigation facilities, bulking centres and agro-processing facilities. He urged staff in target districts to be fully involved in the implementation of the project. “I also urge the private sector to take keen interest as they play a key role in the cashew nut value chain,” Mr Liyomba said.
Vice-chairperson of the Cashew Growers Association Gobrown Kashumba, who sat in throughout the three-day workshop, was undoubtedly energised by the outcome of the stakeholder engagement.