TANZANIA is the first country in Africa to develop and cultivate hybrid cashew varieties, realising high yields to farmers.
Principal Agriculture Research Officer with Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) in Naliendele, Stella Mfune said the country developed 54 varieties between 2006 and 2015.
“Tanzania is the first country in Africa to develop high-quality cashew varieties fit for farmers to plant and boost productivity," she said, adding that in 2006, TARI Naliendele developed 16 types of varieties, 22 in 2015 and 16 in 2016.
She said the species are the best quality ever known in the world and have enabled its farmers to increase their yields.
Ms Mfune asserted that Tanzania is likely to become a pioneer producer of the crop in Africa, should the majority of cashew growers bank on the improved varieties and also adopt improved farming technology management.
The developed varieties have the ability to resist insects as pests and diseases, and in turn increase yields with good nut-size and fetch good prices.
She said that TARI Naliendele currently produces and distributes over 100 tonnes of seedlings to farmers in Tanzania, adding: "Currently we are producing and distributing to farmers over 100 tonnes of seedlings per year. The seeds are processed through developed farms stationed in cashew nut producing regions in the country.”
Apart from developing the cashew hybrids, the national research institute came up with some improved farming technologies to help local farmers, which countries like Ghana, Zambia, Ivory Coast and Mozambique have adopted.
"Some countries such as Ivory Coast, Zambia, Ghana and Mozambique have come to our country to learn and take our improved cashew seedlings for their cultivations,” she said, further noting that Tanzania through TARI Naliendele exported over 50 tonnes of seedlings to Zambia in 2018.
TARI Naliendele has developed seedlings processing farms in Tabora, Manyoni, Singida, Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma and Naliendele main station in Mtwara to further encourage the local farmers to adopt the best production technologies they demonstrate.
On the other hand, the institute urged for improved extension services to help build the capacity of cashew nut farmers through better management of improved cashew nut varieties to farmers.
According to Ms Mfune, most farmers experience low productivity, because they practice improper farming methods.
Speaking during a strategic training on cashew farming, farmers in Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma asked the research institute to establish cashew nut nurseries at district and ward levels to facilitate accessibility of improved planting materials in their respective areas.
The farmers said the move will minimise transport costs they incur in accessing and transporting seedlings to their farms.