Cashew nut farmers from five villages in Lindi Region have pocketed 2.6bn/- from Mnolela Primary Society in the region after selling their produce in three auctions this year. An official of the society, Hassan Kongwa told reporters here yesterday that the farmers earned the money after selling 488 tonnes of raw cashew in the first auction, 120 tonnes in the second auction and 232 tonnes in the third auction.
He said there were still some more outstanding payments to the farmers which the primary society was still processing. He said the payments made and the unpaid balance come up after sales of cashew nut through warehouse receipt system in the cashew buying season of this year.
Cashew nut farmers in the country are currently rejoicing after a 30 per cent increase in prices of their crop. In Mtwara for instance, the price ranges between 3,837/- and 3,585/- per kilogramme from between 2,890/- and 1,800/- per kilogramme in the previous season. Farmers say the price increase is a result of a change in the way cashew nuts are marketed, for the crop is now sold in an auction, which allows buyers to compete, sending prices up in the process.
Tanzania is Africa's largest cashew grower after Nigeria and Ivory Coast, and the eighth biggest producer in the world. Cashews are the important export crop for Tanzania providing about ten to fifteen per cent of the country's foreign exchange.
The crop is an important source of income for small farmers.
The majority of plantations are found along the southern coast in towns like Mtwara, Lindi, Ruvuma and Pwani. While most of the cashew trees were planted in the 1950's and 60's, more and more farmers are continuing to plant cashews. Cashews are amongst the one of the most consumed nuts in the world which are eaten as a snack or in cooking.