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  • Masawe energises cash production

    Apr 17th, 2018

    THE euphoria that gripped the cashew fraternity has been put to a reality check following the arrival of Peter Masawe, who has 31 years of experience in the industry. Professor Masawe, a Tanzanian, is the technical advisor of the Cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP), an African Development Bank (AfDB) initiative designed to stimulate economic development in the markedly impoverished Western Province. The CIDP is a project under the Ministry of Agriculture. Government has borrowed US$45 million from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to alleviate poverty in Western Province. About 60,000 farmers in 10 of the 16 districts will participate in the five-year CIDP project expected to contribute to poverty reduction and improved household income through improved cashew production. The project is in line with the Vision 2030, Sixth National Development Plan (SNDP: 2011-2015) and National Agriculture Policy (NAP: 2004-2015). 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. Following his arrival three months ago, Prof Masawe was taken around all the nurseries under the CIPD in all the 10 districts. Just when local farmers thought they had taken off, Prof Masawe suggests that their activities,,,,,,, since the cashew project was launched is kindergarten practice.“What I realised is that the nurseries were not well dressed. The farmers were not doing work professionally and they never knew the scientific background of propagation,” Prof Masawe said.His sentiments came at a time when enthusiastic subsistence farmers were looking forward to start seeing the fruits of their labour. However, Prof. Masawe said farmers were wrongly treating cashew like citrus trees. “I took time to give them [farmers] an explanation why they are doing vegetative propagation, the timing of propagation and the best practice in propagation,” he said. Prof Masawe said farmers were also getting trees or seedlings which were overgrown which resulted in failure. He has promised to orient farmers on how to harvest and transplant materials. Prof Masawe noted that the farmers’ knowledge of transplanting was inadequate because the majority were transplanting the bud in whole. “Cashew in Zambia is at an infancy stage in terms of research and development. Research has to be the heart of the cashew industry because if there is no effective research, it will collapse,” he said. “We will emphasise on capacity development. I have requested for [engagement of] four scientists and eight technicians to join the current team of one researcher and two technicians.” The four scientists, researcher and 10 technicians will later this month undertake a study tour of Tanzania’s cashew research station in Mtwara. When they come back, they will be training 45 nurseries operators at Simulumbe research station. Each district will produce two nursery operators who will train others in the 10 districts participating in the CIPD. The second exercise will be to identify high yielding cashew trees from farmers’ fields, how to identify those trees which will be reproduced and planted at Simulumbe Research Station for future multiplication as the source of planting material in Zambia. “Although the project is covering 10 districts, we have also established demonstration plots in Mwandi, and in Chavuma and Zambezi (in North-Western Province) in conjunction with ZARI (Zambia Agriculture Research Institute) in order to see how they can perform in other parts of Zambia,” Prof Masawe said. He said in view of the economic importance of cashew in terms of income generation to farmers and employment creation, and as a foreign exchange earner. Considering that the crop is grown throughout the year, it controls soil erosion and global warming. Cashew is also the main source of employment in rural and urban areas because labour is required during cultivation, harvesting, processing, transportation, marketing, drying, warehousing, in clearing and forwarding. “Cashew has two products – nut and the fruit. The nut can produce kernel which we eat, the shell produces oil. Cashew nut liquid is used in brake lining, lubricants, cement, cosmetics and ceiling boards because fungus cannot grow on it,” Prof Masawe said. The fruit has vitamin C which is five times more in citrus and 10 times more in pineapple. The vitamin C in cashew fruit can be used to produce alcoholic beverages like gin, wine and brandy and non-alcoholic drinks like juice, syrup, while the dry fruit can be used to make candy. The chaff can be used to make feed for animals. Producers The biggest producer of cashew in Africa is Ivory Coast, followed by Guinea Bissau, Tanzania, Benin, Nigeria, Mozambique and Ghana. In terms of research, Tanzania is the centre of excellence in Africa (in Mtwara) which has the best cashew scientists. “I am the one who established cashew research centres in Mozambique, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Madagascar. With my presence, Zambia will start featuring among top cashew producing countries in three years. This will be done by increasing the number of planting trees locally and imports from Tanzania,” he said. In Tanzania, cashew is known as green gold. It is leading in terms of foreign exchange earnings among all crops. Last year, it generated more than US$6 million. “We are expecting the same to continue because of expanded production. Be informed that cashew is zero cholesterol, that is why it fetches very well on the market,” Prof Masawe, who has authored about eight books on cashew, said. “I was the lead scientist for the cashew project in Tanzania from 1989. I was technical advisor to the cashew programme for two years from 2000 to 2002 and technical advisor for the CIDP in Ghana from 2006 to 2008, and I am now technical advisor from January 2015,” said the man who has been adjunct professor of the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology in Arusha, Tanzania from 2015. Namushakende Farm Institute principal Chama Mwila said the arrival of Prof. Masawe has seen the speeding up of distribution of cashew seedlings and number of seedlings getting to farmers.“He has studied the existing cashew plantations and noted that they had potential and viability for higher production if well managed. Come July, massive spraying of cashew will commence,” Mr Mwila said. “He has streamlined the operations of cashew activities according to the needs of farmers.”