TANZANIA – Tanzania’s total cashew nut sales on the international market dropped 63% to US$196.5 million in 2018, compared with US$529.6 million in the 2017 trading period.

Minister for Finance and Economic planning Phillip Mpango, while presenting the 2019/20 budget in Dodoma said exports fell to 120,200 tonnes from 329,400 tonnes in 2017, reports The East African.

This was despite a 1.7% increase in the price per tonne on the international market from US$1,607.7 to US$1,634.2 in the one-year period.

In 2017/18, global production of cashew nuts stood at 3.9 million tonnes, led by Vietnam, India and Côte d’Ivoire, with 22 per cent, 19 per cent and 18 per cent of the world’s total respectively.

Tanzania is among the world’s largest producers of raw cashew nuts and accounts for 75% of the total production in East Africa, having realised a total production of 313,826 tonnes in the 2017/18 crop year.

Cashew nut production in the country during the last harvest season (2017/2018) was estimated at 240,000 tonnes, out of which, some 213,000 tonnes were purchased by the government.

Cashew nut is the lead cash crop export in the country followed by tea, coffee and sisal of which 90 per cent of the crop is exported in their raw form owing to the country’s low processing capacity.

To grow local processing, Tanzania has called for investors to set up processing facilities in the country aimed at adding value on the nuts.

The country is also seeking investments in new plantations aimed at increasing production and total tonnage, suppliers of machinery and equipment.

With support from USAid Hub, the Tanzania Investment Centre has drafted a strategy for cashew nut production and processing mainly in four regions: Lindi, Mtwara, Tunduru and Pwani.

The government has set aside a total of 538,993 hectares of land in these regions for agricultural expansion and industrial development and is also seeking investors to set up industrial parks and develop cashew nut processing industrial zones.

The search for processors comes at a time when the Tanzanian government is still holding a huge stock of cashew nuts estimated at 200,000 tonnes it bought from farmers in November last year after it failed to secure foreign buyers.

Early this year, the government had secured a purchase deal worth US$180 million with a Kenyan company, Indo Power Solutions but, however, the deal didn’t close after the company failed to meet the requirements.