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  • Tanzania: Mkinga Cashew Farmers Grapple With Ravaging Pests

    Oct 10th, 2016

    Tanga — Cashew was once one of the leading export earning crops in the country, grown only in the Southern Regions - Lindi and Mtwara until a decade or so ago. In Coast Region, a few plants would be spotted amidst shrubs.The crop is still dominated by southern regions where hundreds of trees are gown, with a single farmer owning as much as 300 hectares - quite a remarkable stride, at least in as far as Tanzania's standard is concerned.Other regions, having learnt about the economic benefits of the crop, are engaging in cashew farming, one of them Tanga, where a total of 187,041trees have so far been planted, most of them now at harvesting stage.Mkinga District, the newest administrative district, established in 2006, after a split from Muheza, is leading, closely followed by Pangani. The crop had, until recently, been benefiting the farmers dismally in that most of the raw cashew was smuggled across the border to Kenya, until a few years when local leaders 'woke up from slumber' and arrested the situation. They did so through formation of public auction and revival of agricultural marketing societies.An equally challenging and distressing problem was the attack of cashew trees by diseases and insect pests which are presently no longer a threat in southern regions where farmers there are now able to deal with the problem effectively.

    "Cashew trees are prone to attack by about twenty one diseases", says Nzaro Kijo, Mkinga District Cashew Coordinator - a seasoned expert in management of cashew trees. At the launch of this season's insecticide spraying of trees, which was hosted recently at Horohoro Kijijini, hardly three kilometers from the Tanzania - Kenya common border, emphasis was made on the use of insecticides.The use of insecticide, pesticide and fungicide is, according to Kijo, aimed at tackling the disease squarely so that trees grow healthily and produce cashew nut of better quality and in sufficient quantity, hence increasing farmers' purchasing power as well as create earnings for district council. The launch was attended by extension officers from the district's villages as well as extension officers neighbouring the district.