The government of the United Republic of Tanzania has projected to inject Sh3 trillion into the country’s economy from 700,000 tonnes of cashew nuts that would be harvested annually beginning in 2025/26.
The 700,000 tonnes projection was made after reviewing the previous plan to increase annual cashew nuts production.
Made by the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) in 2019, the projections show that Tanzania would produce one million tonnes of the nuts in the 2023/24 harvest season.
The plan – which was released during the 2019 stakeholders meeting in Mtwara – also shows that, while 800,000 tonnes were projected to be produced in the 2022/23 farming season, 600,000 tonnes was the anticipation production for the 2021/22 farming season.
Furthermore, the document shows that 450,000 and 350,000 tonnes would be produced in the 2020/21 and the 2019/20 farming seasons respectively.
The projections were made on the basis of increased cashew trees and acres of land planted with the crop annually, at an average of 1.5 million trees planted on 535,000 acres of land.
But, an anonymous source within the CBT told that the target was reviewed.
“The plan was suitably amended to align it with the election manifesto of the ruling political party CCM that projected an annual production increase of 700,000 tonnes reaching 2025/26,” the anonymous source said.
According to the amendment, the country was projected to produce 603,500 tonnes in 2024/25 – and over 537,000 tonnes in 2023/24.
Furthermore, the amended projections show that, over 441,000 tonnes of cashew nuts would be produced in the 2022/23, and 405,000 tonnes in the 2021/22 harvesting season.
The Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) director general, Dr Geoffrey Mkamilo, said they were collaborating with CBT to ensure that the set targets are realized on the ground.
He said once the 700,000 tonnes target is reached – and if the market prices reach an average of Sh2,000 per kilo – then the crop would contribute Sh1.4 trillion to the economy.
“Since cashews processing is expected to increase to 60 percent from the present 10-20 percent, then Sh3 trillion would be added to the economy through the trading of kernels from the 700,000 Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN),”Dr Mkamilo said.
He also said that, in order to meet the 2025/26 target, Tari has been provided with a significant amount from the Sh12 billion allocated by the government to the Ministry of Agriculture in the 2021/22 budget for research activities.
“Significantly, the funds would be used for the production of seeds and seedlings at the Naliendele Research Centre in Mtwara Region.
“Seedlings will be produced in other Research Centres, including Mkuranga (Coast Region); Nakayaya (Ruvuma Region); Nanyanga (Mtwara Region) and Nyangao (Lindi Region),” Dr Mkamilo revealed.
He also said that the seedlings produced from using better seeds will be distributed to farmers through local government councils, a move that has been prioritised by the ministry under the stewardship of Professor Adolf Mkenda as the minister.
According to him, there are several challenges that need to be addressed – such as preventing and timely treatment of pests and diseases that affect cashew trees, thereby significantly reducing production.
He said decisions made during the stakeholders’ meeting would be addressed by cashew nuts-producing councils across the country in order to enable the government to realise its endeavours.
“We only work according to the government’s priorities. Therefore, we frequently make assessments – especially on cashews and edible oil producing seeds – to identify progress, challenges and areas that require improvement,” he said.
The CBT director general, Mr Francis Alfred, said the board has put strategies in place so as to increase cashew nuts production from 300,000 to 700,000 tonnes by 2025/26, and increase domestic cashews processing capacity to 60 percent.
“This season, Sh200 million has been allocated to cashew producing councils across the country for increasing access of better cashew seeds and seedlings,” he said.
“We will provide better seeds for planting to councils in need and encourage them to establish nurseries. Farmers will be trained to increase understanding on transplantation and means of caring for seedlings.”
According to him, assessment will be done to establish whether distributed seeds and seedlings were used according to expectations.
He said that the Sh535 million seeds would be distributed to farmers in 20 cashew producing areas – noting that over 100 tonnes of cashews have been given to farmers in bona fide efforts of the government to have about 14.9 million cashew nut trees planted in the new farms, while improving old farms.
The Naliendele Tari deputy director, Dr Fortunus Kapinga, said pests and diseases were the major factors that adversely affect cashew yields.
“Diseases which are associated with changes of the weather and the presence of moisture in the atmosphere are very common and cause significant loss to cashew nut farmers,” he said.
The major challenge that most farmers face is failure to clean their farms during appropriate weather. Therefore, they recommend introduction of mixed cropping in cashew farms in order to guarantee cleanliness.
According to him, early cleanliness of cashew farms should be adhered to in order to increase cashew nut yields.
“The target to produce 700,000 tonnes of cashew nuts by 2015/26 can be made practical. We are obliged to make a significant contribution in production of better seeds that would ultimately increase cashew nuts production,” he said.
Local government councils and other stakeholders are obliged to produce modern seeds and seedlings that would stimulate increased production in the country.
Dr Kapinga said CBT, Tari and councils should jointly educate cashew farmers and the general public on the set targets: the need to make them a reality, and ensure technology reaches farmers through extension officers.
“We have farms, cashew trees, seeds, seedlings and people to make the 700,000 tonnes production target a reality. We are supposed to revive abandoned farms, and carry the budding of new seedlings to the old ones in order to get yields within a shorter period,” he said.
Farmers across the country have the opportunity to identify and show experts cashew trees that do not produce yields in order to be improved through the use of crop technologies – such as budding, as well as the application of pesticides and medications.
Farmers should use appropriate agricultural inputs in their cashew farms, he said – adding that regular training for cashew farmers is strongly recommended.
The Mbinga District Council’s agriculture officer, Mr Enock Ndunguru, said cashew farms in some regions should be given a priority in order to increase the country’s cashew nuts production.
“We plan to increase production as a country.
“That is why new councils like ours have participated in the stakeholders meeting in order to gain experience on the crop’s production,” he said.
According to Mr Ndunguru, there are some people who believe that cashew nuts are an alternative crop leading to the introduction of nurseries to produce more seedlings.
He said the focus was to contribute to the realisation of the 700,000 tonnes annual production target set by the government – observing that stakeholders in their respective areas should increase their dedication to the cashew nuts sub-sector.