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  • Weather vagaries instil fear into farmers over cashew nuts yield 10/10/2022

    Oct 10th, 2022

    Cashew farmers have expressed doubts that the current weather could adversely affect cashew yields in the 2022/23 season. Trading season in the East African cashew producing heavyweight is expect to commence on October 14, this year, through a public auction at Mbangara Agriculture Marketing Cooperative Society (Amcos), Chingulungulu Village in Masasi , Mtwara Region. The Amcos is trading under the Masasi and Mtwara Cooperative Union (Mamcu). ALSO READ Ugandan MP goes missing in Nairobi, surfaces in Kampala National Oct 08 We need each other, says Ruto. National Oct 08 Auction schedule released by the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) shows that the season would be closed on January 13, 2023 by an auction at Lengo Village. The season closing auction will be organised by the Linganelo Amcos operating under the Tandahimba and Newala Cooperative Union (Tanecu). Despite farmer’s doubts, CBT last week maintained that the 400,000 tonnes production target would be realised. “No threat on the anticipated volume of production has been recorded by CBT so far. However, the 2022/23 season will slightly be extended,” said the CBT acting director general, Mr Francis Alfred. However, the Tanzania Agriculture Research Institute (Tari) at the Naliendele Centre director Dr Fortunatus Kapinga confirmed the weather changes caused by climate change. “We have witnessed delays in cashews development patterns such as flowering, fertilization, swelling, nuts setting to maturity with flowers reported to have withered in some places,” he said. “This is not caused by any disease, but changes in weather occurring whenever there is change in temperature and rains required by cashews,” he added. According to him, excessive wind which cannot be controlled by man could lead to production decline, noting however that resumption of temperature to normalcy would give recovery and prevent possible decline in production. “Therefore, I can’t say how much production will be lost because it’s difficult to predict the level of recovery that will occur in future,” he said, adding, however, there are some cashew trees bearing young nuts now indicating that possibly the season will be extended because even places that used to have harvested cashews now have collected nothing in their stocks. The senior cashew expert said his centre is using the challenge in planning future research that would enable the country to come up with new cashew varieties resistance to climate change impacts. Stakeholders in the cashews growing season told The Citizen that weather changes recorded early September will adversely reduce the volume of cashews to be produced in the 2022/23 season. Newala Farmers Association (Nefa) chairman Muhdini Mnaly said the good signs that convinced them on the prosperous of the 2022/23 season were abruptly replaced by the windy and cold weather. “The young cashew fruits were dispersed from their respective trees adversely disrupting the possibility of the crop harvests sustainability,” he said. According to him, his forecast to harvest 15-20 tonnes of Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) had to be adjusted to 10 tonnes, calling on authorities to make proper trading season supervision. “They should ensure farmers get better prices to close the gaps caused by poor weather,” he said. But, his Tandahimba counterpart Faraji Njapuka said weather changes would lead to cashew being harvested during rainy season, something that will possibly lower its quality. “I have harvested no single cashew to date ...contrary to last years’ season contrary to last year when I harvested 355 kilogrammes of RCN,” he said told The Citizen over the phone. “Better prices will be appreciated by cashew farmers because they will reduce the pains recorded in the season,” he added. However, Mr Njapuka commended the government for timely and distribution of subsidised agricultural inputs, noting that there was lack of experience to entrusted coordinating leaders. “The process coordinators lacked prerequisite experience, as a result, the inputs were landed in the hands of agents who sold them for personal gain contrary to the government’s directives,” he observed. “Despite their weaknesses, experienced Amcos leaders could have been involved in the process for the best interest of cashew farmers and the country at large,” he added. For his part, a farmer and councillor in Namalenga Village, Masasi District, Mtwara Region, Mr Mohamed Mkokoto said weather changes will shorten the 2022/23 cashews trading season. “Our colleagues in Mnavira Village, Mchauru Ward in the district have harvested all the cashews in their farms. They are only waiting for the auctions commencement,” he said. Another farmer and councillor in the Lukuledi Ward, Mr Hamza Kalembo said neither the government nor farmers are to blame on the weather patterns. “Farmers were paid Sh1,500 to Sh1,600 per kilo from peas trading. Likewise, they are expecting better price during cashews auction season following a huge investment made in the 2022/23 season,” he said. But, Lindi Mwambao Cooperative Union (LMCU) general manager Nurudin Swallah said despite threatening weather changes , the union’s production target remain unchanged. “We are targeting to produce 20,000 tonnes, about 1,000 tonnes up as compared to the 2021/22 harvest season. However, since there is no released report from experts, the union’s production forecasts remain unchanged,” he said. “I would like to call on buyers to attend the auctions in large numbers and offer better price to farmers. We are told that the price of RCN is stabilising in the global market. We will use the auctions to determine the level of its stabilisation,” he said. According to him, while LMCU’s first auction will be hosted by Mtama Amcos on October 15 this month, warehouses will officially open today for farmers to start sending their produce. “Farmers should put into consideration the general issue of maintaining RCN quality before the cashewnuts are sent for auctions. The focus should start during cashews collection, drying, grading and packaging,” the farmer insisted. Ms Jahida Hassan of Ruangwa, Nachingwea and Liwale Cooperative Union (Runali) said cashew trees are adversely affected by diseases when subjected to excessive cold rains which lowers the nuts quality. “We are planning to produce 50,000 tonnes of RCN this season despite fears caused by weather deviations. Last season, the union harvested 46,000 tonnes,” she said. According to her, all subsidised agriculture inputs had been distributed to farmers by 100 percent, hinting that the government’s decision will significantly boost production this season. “Early farms’ preparations and application of enough agriculture inputs will guarantee farmers with quality cashews that will ultimately attract better prices,” she said. She was speaking in the region ahead of the auctions slated from October 10, this month in the area, saying stakeholder needed to fulfil their responsibility as provided by the 2022/23 guideline. Reached for comment, the Tunduru Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Union (Tamcu) acting general manager Adam Mkokoyi said cold weather existed for a long period this season as compared to previous years. He said they have doubts whether the forecasts to increase the volume of RCN production from 25,285 tonnes recorded in the 2021/22 to 32,000 tonnes would be realised, “However, we expect better prices because of a huge investment in inputs application as compared to last season which gives us the confidence. Last season, inputs were applied based on their availability,” he said. He said most farmers thought the more agriculture input applied to cashew trees, the more nuts will be harvested. This season we invested a lot in educating farmers on proper methods of inputs application,” he added. Regarding availability of packaging materials for the 2022/23 season, Mr Mkokoyi said they have received 573,000 sacks from CBT, which are enough for packaging the anticipated 32,000 tonnes. “The packaging materials have been distributed to all Amcos ready for use in the auction slated for October 27, this month in the district. “The opener auction is expected to take place at the Namitili Amcos in the Nakapanya Division,” he added. He called on buyers to turn up in large numbers for auctions and offer better price, noting that cashew growing districts and regions should prevent any plot that would prevent farmers from getting better prices.