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  • Cashew farmers eye Dar forum to boost business 07/29/2023

    Jul 29th, 2023

    Cashew farmers and stakeholders stand a better chance to grab opportunities to improve cashews production and processing due to the international cashew conference slated for October, this year. They will also have the opportunity of sharing experience with players from successful countries in the areas of marketing, strengthened cooperatives, financing and use of modern technologies. Launching the International Cashews Conference, the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) says that the forum would be held in Dar es Salaam between October 11 and 13, this year. The conference is expected to bring together over 500 participants from all over the world, including 33 cashews growing countries. “The countries include Ivory Coast, Cambodia, India, Vietnam, Brazil, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Ghana, Madagascar, Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya, Mauritius, Comoros Islands and hosts Tanzania,” says the information posted on the CBT website. The information says different stakeholders from cashews growing countries including the US, European countries, China, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, South Africa and other African countries are also expected to attend the conference. “The conference aims at gathering stakeholders in the cashews value chain such as farmers, growers, processors, roasters, transporters, cooperatives, input suppliers, warehouse operators, researchers as well as machinery and equipment manufacturers,” reads part of the statement. “Others are industry managers, consumers or users of cashew products, financial institutions, policy makers, investors, development partners and many other stakeholders,” reads another part. According to the statement, different topics such as cashews production and agro mechanization; use of technology in the cashew industry as well as investment opportunities in the sector would be presented and debated during the conference. Others are financing mechanisms in the cashew industry; processing technology and techniques; enhancing cashews marketing and value-added products; digitalization in the sector as well as incentives and enabling policies in the industry. However, stakeholders who spoke to The Citizen differed over the conference benefits to farmers and other players. While the majority agreed that the forum would significantly benefit the sector in different areas, some were of the view that efforts were required to identify and resolve domestic challenges in the cashews value chain. The Tanzania Association of Cashew Processors (TACP) Secretary General John Joseph said the conference was an opportunity for the country to increase production and processing. “Currently, Tanzania processes 10 percent of locally produced Raw Cashew Nuts (RCNs), exporting the remaining 90 percent,” he said over the phone. “The conference will open the cashews market globally, therefore attracting more buyers and processors. This will increase the volume of exported kernels to different parts of the world,” he added. Mr Joseph was seconded by Ruangwa, Nachingwea and Liwale Cooperative Union (Runali) general manager, Ms Jahida Hassan who said the conference will provide cashew farmers an opportunity to advertise the produce. She said through the conference, farmers and industry players will have a chance of learning from successful countries in the areas of production, processing and better use of inputs in order to increase production. “We have planned to dispatch a team of representatives to the conference as well as showcasing our products,” she said. An agriculture stakeholder, Mr Audax Rukonge said Tanzania isn’t doing well in the area of processing, adding that the conference provides an opportunity in this part. He said the country will have an opportunity of picking one technology that will enable the country to increase shelf life of products and secure more markets. “Tanzania has experience in marketing RCN as compared to kernels which comprise with competent giants in branding and value addition. But, the most important thing is improving organization in the areas of production, marketing, processing and value addition which are important ingredients in the industry,” he said. “Cooperatives are not well organized in the country contrary to the thinking of many citizens because mostly cooperatives are influenced by politics,” he said. “They are not strong enough to challenge directives from the minister or reject low offers by buyers during auctions and look for competitive prices elsewhere or the interest of farmers and the country in general,” he added. The former executive director of the Agricultural Non-State Actors Forum (ANSAF) said the meeting will provide farmers and players with opportunities to get experience on issues of organization and search for markets. He said financing was another important aspect to small scale farmers and processors, hinting that participation of financial institutions and their respective readiness to provide credit would be an added advantage to cashew farmers and stakeholders. “Tanzania has the poorest processing capacity among the East African countries. Therefore, we are supposed to learn from Mozambique that has managed to process 85 percent of its cashews. Kenya also sells value added kernels by 100 percent,” he said. However, the Tandahimba Farmers Association (Taffa) chairman, Mr Faraji Njapuka shared different opinions, noting that the conference will have little or no benefit to individual farmers in the country. He said Tanzania was supposed to convene a number of meetings at the grassroots level aimed at identifying challenges facing farmers and establish resolution measures. “These meetings had to come to the regional, zonal and national levels, especially by establishing reasons for deteriorating RCN prices and come up with recommendations before organising a global event,” he said. Mr Njapuka believes that the government was a major determinant of cashew prices, noting that it could ensure farmers reap big from the produce by reducing levies imposed on a kilogramme of traded RCN. The CBT director general, Mr Francis Alfred said the conference will increase Tanzania's exposure to the international arena by enabling players to understand activities undertaken ranging from production, processing and value addition. “It will attract RCN buyers and investors from different parts of the world. The meeting will generally attract investment in cashews large scale production,” he said. “Once we are successful in opening the market, demand of the produce will ultimately increase, therefore promoting competition and competitive prices to the local cashews market,” he added. He said many farmers will be motivated to engage in cashews production and processing in order to get kernels and other cashews related products. Mr Alfred said individuals intending to participate in the event would be required to fill application forms and pay Sh300,000 registration fee. He said those intending to showcase their produce during the exhibitions would be required to pay Sh350,000 per person, noting that those aspiring to get both opportunities would be required to pay Sh600,000. He said the meeting will be convened after every two years, hinting that on the third day of the conference, participants will tour different tourists’ attractions including the auspicious islands of Zanzibar. Other cashew products The CBT statement says the meeting will be used to encourage the use of cashew nuts and its products such as Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL), juice, cashew milk, wine, cashew apple meat and alcohol. “Other products such as ethanol can be used in our hospital and school laboratories and thus expanding the scope of the country’s cashew market,” reads the statement. Tanzania Cashews Industry The country targets to increase cashews production to 1,000,000 tonnes and process 60 percent of kernels, therefore achieving the 10/30 agenda of contributing 10 percent of the national income and bring abundant foreign currency. The 2022 state of the Economy Report, shows that cashews attracted $226.9 million as compared to $178.5 million garnered from tobacco. Other crops and attracted forex in brackets are; coffee ($161.2 million); cotton ($103.4 million); clover ($42.18 million); tea ($30 million) and sisal ($24.3 million). Tabling the 2023/24 budget in Parliament in Dodoma, Agriculture minister Hussein Bashe said Tanzania produced 210,786 tonnes in 2021/22. He said 240,158 tonnes and 182,270 tonnes were produced in 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons respectively.