Opening the meeting, the Zambezia provincial governor, Abdul Razak, cited in Thursday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", said that, if all Mozambican cashew production had been processed locally, then there would have been many more gains in terms of employment and export revenue.
Mozambique has 17 cashew processing plants, mostly in Nampula, Zambezia and Cabo Delgado provinces, employing around 17,000 workers. Razak believed there is potential for greatly expanding production and exports.
At the start of the 2015-2019 period, the cashew factories that then existed could process 30,000 tonnes of nuts. Razak said the figure has now risen to 70,000 tonnes.
Nonetheless half the cashew nuts marketed are exported raw, and are processed in countries such as India or Vietnam. According to Santos Feijone, head of the Economics Department in the government's Cashew Promotion Institute (INCAJU), in the 2010-2014 five year period, an average of 90,000 tonnes of cashew nuts a year were marketed. Over the current five year period, the figure for marketing has risen to 130,000 tonnes a year.
The producers earned an annual average of rather more than 430,000 dollars for their raw nuts, said Feijone, while the export of cashew kernels brought in an average of 194,000 dollars.
In a message presented to the Gurue meeting, the producers complained of low prices for the nuts. The prices, they said, are fixed by the buyers.
Data from the economics department indicate a sharp rise in the export of processed kernels. Last year, 7,000 tonnes were exported to the United States, Italy, Holland, Norway and South Africa. But in the first quarter of this year exports of kernels to the same countries reached 26,000 tonnes. Over the last seven months, 92,000 tonnes of raw nuts were sold to India and Vietnam.
Razak pointed out that increasing the production and productivity of the national cashew orchard requires measures to deal with indiscriminate bush fires, which often destroy cashew trees, and improved management of the trees, which are vulnerable to fungal and insect pests.