NACHINGWEA District Council is looking for investors to revive its cashew nuts and sesame processing plants to add value to the two major cash crops that are the lifelines of the district economy.
The Chairman of the District Council, Ahmed Salum Makoroganya told Tanzania Standard Newspaper (TSN) journalists in Nachingwea recently that the two plants which had ceased working were top investment opportunities in the district.
“In the 1970’s there was cashew nut processing plant but it collapsed and it is now used as a warehouse.
This is one area for investment,” he told the TSN journalists who were visiting areas potential for investments in the district ahead of a major business and investment forum for Lindi Region next week.
He said a sesame processing plant Ilulu Limited was also not working since it was privatized to a businessman who did not develop it. “The government had to retake it and it is another area for investment,” he said.
Cashew nuts and sesame are two major cash crops for Nachingwea District and the main source of revenue for the council and income for farmers.
Tanzania is Africa’s largest producer of sesame seeds and one of the continent’s largest exporters, according to the data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
The crop is extremely important in particular to the coastal region of Lindi. Nachingwea is the largest producer of cashew nuts in Lindi Region with 21,687.75 metric tonnes in the 2017/18 year followed by Liwale District with 17,074.4 metric tonnes, according to Cashewnut Board of Tanzania statistics.
Production of the main cash crop is expected to increase in the near future after farmers were supplied with farming inputs free of charge.
According to the District Council Information Officer, Priscus Silayo, the production had declined to 16,081 metric tonnes 2018/19 season mainly due fusarium wilt disease that causes massive wilting of the cashew trees.
Other factors attributed to falling production were old farming methods and failure by farmers to buy farm inputs despite receiving payments in their bank accounts from the produce of the previous season sold to cooperative societies, he said.
However, he said there were hopes that the declining trend in cashew production would be reversed after farmers were supplied with grafted seedlings and pesticides such as sulphur free of charge in the 2017/18 season.
Cashew is a leading export crop for Tanzania and an important source of income for smallholder farmers in Lindi, Mtwara and Coast regions.