TANZANIA – The government of Tanzania in conjunction with the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) has released US$1.95 million (Tsh4.5 billion) to pay growers of cashew nuts after they sold their commodity to the government, reports Daily News.

Following President Magufuli’s directive to buy cashew nut from farmers, about 130,111 tonnes of cashew nuts were collected in three growing regions.

According to Mtwara Regional Commissioner Gelisius Byanakwa, the exercise of collecting and buying cashew nuts from peasants is expected to continue to 100% given the cooperation from identified stakeholders.

Earlier this month, the government had ordered trade dealers to pay cashew growers US$1.43 for a kilogramme bought on the market.

The army was ordered to haul bought cashew nuts to designated go downs in readiness for processing.

This was after private buyers offered growers very low prices for a kilogramme of cashew nuts, leading to several failed auctions.

The collected produce is expected to be processed by National Service Brigade of the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF).

“You will recall that we were given clear instructions that a grower must be paid 3,300/- for a kilogramme.

The story does not end at buying the nuts; we have undertaken an evaluation exercise to ensure all growers received that amount in all the in 83 societies in the three regions where cashew nuts were sold,” said Byanakwa in a report.

He said that they hope the supervised marketing exercise will present solutions to challenges that emerged during the current marketing season, where growers were offered very low prices.

“The logic behind this exercise is to ensure every cent goes to the peasant who sells the cashew nuts.

We do not want peasants’ money to be given to dishonest people.”

Tanzania’s potential in cashew

According to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council Foundation, East Africa accounts for around 10% of global cashew nut production with Tanzania producing 75% of East Africa’s cashew crop.

Following the intensive cashew collection exercise, concerns are that Tanzania might not have the logistical capacity to store this year’s August to December harvest.

Tanzania’s export revenues from cashew nuts doubled to $540 million last year from $270 million in 2016, official data shows, helped by the country’s introduction of a new warehousing system.

The country has 14 million ha of land dedicated to cashew plantation but less than 10% of the raw cashew produced in the region is processed locally, thus need for value addition.

Tanzania exports cashewnut to the Netherlands, US, India, South Africa, Germany, UK, Sweden, and Canada.

In June this year, the government moved to scrap the 65% of the crop export levy remitted to farmers through the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT).

The new changes indicated that part of export levy collected will not be remitted to farmers for developing the crop but instead all the money will be deposited in the treasury’s consolidated fund.