YOUNG farmers collect raw cashew nuts at a selling point. Tanzania needs to revive the cashew industry in order to benefit more from the crop. (File photo) EVEN without statistics, people within the cashew industry circles can testify that Tanzania has made tremendous progress in developing cashew crop which until recently was a monopoly of small scale farmers in southern regions - Mtwara and Lindi.
This is quite a remarkable achievement in the subsector, whose market opportunities are many in various parts of the world - including - India, the main growers and buyers of the commodity.
India is the main buyer of cashew
nuts grown in the country. But what is baffling is the fact that the crop is
exported raw - not in processed form, complete with its shell.
Thousands of tons are exported to
markets by both commercial and small scale farmers in bulk , the reason being
Tanzania is yet to have its own processing factories. But now, the story is
changing, with a redeemer being in sight. Plans are on the drawing board to
build three cashew nut processing factories in Mtwara - the home of cashew
nuts, Tunduru -both in the south and Mkuranga in Coast Region.
The factories will be built
through financing of Cashewnut Industry Development Trust Fund - CIDTF - an
independent body incorporated under the provisions of Trustees' Incorporation
Act (2002). CIDTF's core objective is to foster development of cashew nut
sector by financing all shared functions of research, farming inputs,
processing, marketing and branding. "Construction work shall start this
But presently, we are preparing
structural and architectural drawings," said Suleiman Lenga, CIDTF
Executive Secretary. Apparently, speaking by telephone from Mtwara shortly
after the launch of cashew nut growing in Mkinga District, Tanga Region, Lenga
revealed that so far the crop was being exported in raw form. "We send raw
cashew nuts to the buyers; but we are actually not happy with the package
because doing so is tantamount to transferring employment opportunities and
technology to others; as well as ownership of the crop", said Lenga.
He said, "Unlike in the
past, when cashew nut factories were in private hands, the new processing
plants will be under the ownership of cashew farmers". He continued,
"We have already earmarked big farmers - those whose production capacity
is between 30 tons to 50 tons per season.
These will directly qualify for
purchase of shares". The CIDTF boss explained that the fund is determined
to become a redeemer of small scale farmers - on the way to liberating them
from prevailing abject poverty which plagues a large section of our people,
especially among the rural poor. "CIDTF is working under a 3 year
strategic programme to grow and distribute a massive 10 million cashew grafted
seedlings for farmers in various districts".
He explained that the institution will ensure that slowly, farmers will be educated on the need to phase out all traditional variety - aging 50 years and above and plant new improved variety.
The new variety, he said, is
resistant to insect pests and diseases. Its production is also impressive -
from 15 kgs to 80 kgs per tree per season, adding that under the programme, all
regions with traditional variety whose production is negligible, will be
sensitised sufficiently enough to change mindset.
"In collaboration with the
Tanzania Cashew Board (TCB), we shall do mapping to identify the number of
famers, number of cashew trees as well as locations, aimed at obtaining
sufficient and reliable information for use in our information network in the
industry". During the launching at Duga Maforoni Primary School in Duga
Ward, Mohamed Chande Ngemage, a representative of cashew farmers in Southern
Zone, planted a cashew tree to signify the occasion. Actual growing this
2014/15 season is expected to take off in the district at the onset of first
rains - mid next month.
The colourful ceremony was
attended by Mkinga District officials and 50 farmers from various villages who
had already been trained on growing technology. The technology had ostensibly
been offered through Naliendele Agricultural Training Institute (NARI) under a
Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) project. According to Nzaro
Kijo, Mkinga District Cashew Coordinator, the farmers were well versed with
land preparation and field layout and row to row spacing.
Land preparation, said Kijo,
involves bush clearing, ploughing, harrowing and hole digging. "First, top
soil is mixed with decomposed manure, whether compost or kraal, then the
contents, about two tins, are emptied in the hole - the idea being to allow
roots to penetrate and absorb nutrients through loose soil.
Then sub-soil covers the hole
before a seed is planted when first rains come," he lectured.