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  • Cashew Processing plants in offing

    Feb 9th, 2016

    At a full council meeting, Deodatus Kinawiro stands up at a podium at the Tanga City Council (TCC) conference hall and announces that cashew will, henceforth be the main cash crop for Mkinga district.

    The declaration was immediately followed by murmurs among the audience, who were speaking in low tones, wondering how the crop, appearing in a form of shrubs and thickets, amidst other vegetation, everywhere, would be honoured so highly.

    Kinawiro, then District Commissioner for Mkinga district, now stationed in Karagwe, Kagera region, was apparently speaking at the launching of the new administrative authority in 2006 - whose formation followed a split from Muheza district.

    The councillors worry had in fact merit, in that many areas, not only in the district but elsewhere in places grown with cashew over four, five decades ago, the trees had been abandoned, yielding hardly half a kilo per tree - quite unsuitable for commercial purposes.

    "When the district was established as an administrative entity, there were many challenges. Almost all trees formed forests wherever you would see them," says Mboni Mgaza, Mkinga District Commissioner.

    At the launching of the public auction on cashew at Duga village, Duga ward, along the Tanga -Horohoro highway, an occasion which attracted a massive 150 plus cashew farmers and the public, the DC said strides had already been made towards reviving the crop.

    "For the last four years, we have trained 64 extension officers who disseminated education on cashew technology to over 600 farmers from the district's cashew growing villages," explained Mboni.

    During the period under review, said the DC, 10 motor blowers were provided to the farmers. Apparently, the blowers are used in the spraying of trees to kill pests and diseases - enemies of cashew trees.

    What's more, 8 cashew processing sets were given to 8 cashew growing groups. She further said, adding that a total of 56,000 grafted seedlings were availed to the farmers, jointly by the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and Cashew Industry Development Trust Fund (CIDTF).

    "My dear farmers, I wish to notify you that your strides to involve yourself more fully in the development of the crop have been noticed - even outside our district. Already, a foreign investor in cashew processing, named Outgrowers Tanzania Ltd., has shown interest to build two factories.

    She added:"One will be built at Horohoro Kijijini - Duga ward, nearest the border with Kenya and another at Mwanyumbu, in Maramba division.

    According to Mboni, the factories will be jointly owned by both the investor and the farmers. The farmers will hold shares at a rate of 40 percent, while the investor's ownership will stand at the rest 60 percent.

    Construction work will begin in September, 2016 while actual processing will follow, a month or so later, according to Nzaro Kijo, Mkinga District Cashew Coordinator.

    The factory has installed capacity of 300 tonnes each, in the words of Frank Futakamba, Branch Manager of Cashew Board Tanzania (CBT), whose overall jurisdiction covers all cashew growing districts in Tanga region.

    "The processed cashew (kernel) to be processed by the factories, already has market in Germany, Denmark and the United States of America (USA)," asserted Futakamba, adding that the processed commodity will be exported through either Tanga port or Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

    At the Duga auction, the seventh in a series since auctioning of the product was established in the district in December last year, a total of 8,998 tonnes were on offer - delivered by 20 farmers from several villages.

    The auction opener saw Futakamba doing the cutting test - to determine grading. The test is normally done from a sampling of 1 kg of cashew, picked in bits from different consignments offered at the auction.

    After the manager, an expert in cashew management had completed the exercise, he called for the attention of the stakeholders and announced that the commodity to be auction had qualified for Grade 2 whose indicative price was 960/=.

    The indicative price, says Futakamba, has deliberately been pegged at a certain rate to protect farmers; meaning that at any rate, buyers are not allowed to bid below the set figure.

    Indicative price for Grade I during this season, is 1,200/=. The bidding process then began, involving four buyers; namely Outgrowers Tanzania Ltd., DEMROS Women Group, Aksh Overseas Ltd., and Leko Masters.

    After the brief bidding stint, Aksh Overseas Ltd. emerged highest bidder - 1,401/=; with some contributions added, 50/= (Cooperative Union), 50/= [District Council] and CIDTF (50=), the amount payable goes to 1,511/= per kg.

    Prior to bidding, Futakamba had told farmers that the main cause for quality decline was failure by farmers to abide by storage requirements .The other, according to the CBT representative was failure to control, adequately, diseases and pests affecting plants. Yet the other equally necessity is field sanitation.

    "Farmers who are fond of harvesting cashewnut through choking or poking by sticks should avoid the practice since doing so results in immature nuts falling off prematurely ."He explained," Kernels should not be disturbed from where they are. They should be allowed to remain on mother tree until they drop down.”

    DC Mboni told the audience that the austerity measures she had personally initiated to ban sale of cashewnuts to unscrupulous buyers across the border had been successful. "We have today, a cashew farmer from Kenya who came all the way from neighbouring Kenya to sell a consignment of 800 kgs. at the auction.”

    Analysts say as more buyers show up at auctions, there is likelihood of more farmers joining   the bandwagon - that is the cashew industry - opening up more acrages in the process. Presently, the area planted with cashew in the district stands at 11,734 hectares.

    For his part, CBT’s Director-General, Mfaume Juma, who had come all the way from Mtwara, one of the cashew growing regions on the southern part of Tanzania,   accompanied by four board members, including Maokola Majogo, former cabinet minister, advised primary cooperative societies to enroll more members in their establishment so that larger consignments are stored in warehouses.

    "If intending buyers know there is enough stock of cashew nuts of good quality in warehouses, they will definitely be attracted and come for bidding, he said; adding the more the buyers, the higher the bidding and the better the price for the farmers.

    Source: The Guardian