A LOCAL company in Mwanga District, Kilimanjaro Region is spearheading cultivation of macadamia nuts with the aim of making Tanzania become a leading produce in the continent.
Making the revelation during a handover ceremony of the second batch of 1,200 macadamia seedlings after a similar that distributed 2,000 seedlings November last year, MACJARO Ltd Company spokesperson, Mr Austin Makani said they will deliver another 1,800 seedlings by March this year as part of their corporate social responsibility plough back to the community.
“We aspire to place Tanzania on the global map in the cultivation of macadamia nuts with already planted 160 acres of macadamia as well intercropped with banana by investing more than US 1.2 million dollar (about 2.8bn/-) for irrigation and related farm activities and inputs,” he added.
Macadamia nuts are native to Australia and rich in a type of healthy fat called monounsaturated. Roasted macadamia nuts are a popular snack, though some people use the nuts as medicine to lower high cholesterol.
Mr Makani noted the seedlings are made available to the farmers at the Mwanga District Commissioner’s office at 1,500/- per seedling instead of 7,000/- market price.
“The plan in the future will be to reach more districts and other regions, until Tanzania surpasses neighbouring Kenya which is the world’s fifth largest producer and Malawi tenth. We must support Tanzania with more potential in terms of vast land and favorable climate, and not producing any,” he pointed out.
Mr Makani further said the crop is environmentally friendly and sustainable, adding: “As a tree, it provides both shade and fruits – the nut attracts very good market price. The crop allows for biodiversity. It sequesters carbon from the atmosphere hence mitigating climatic changes.
“Its husk can be used as a source for compost and animal feed and its pruning offers firewood, an alternative source for energy at household level. It protects the soil from erosion and could be used as a border crop and as well it can be inter-cropped.
“Socially, the crop offers community development options and encourages group farming from family level engaging especially women in management and even children can assist in the collection of nuts once they have fallen down, ready for the market.
“Economically, the cost of cultivating the crop is very minimal since it grows as a tree. It creates jobs and the nuts are a source of income for both the household and also the country through export. And with good crop management, it takes up to three years to start reaping.”
According to MACJARO Ltd Company Director, Mr. James Powell they will continue with the initiative including supporting out growers as a scheme, adding that equally farmers are welcome to sell back their produce to the company.
“As we look forward to starting a processing company here in the region, which is in line with the fifth regime of industrialization spearheaded by President John Magufuli, the farmers will also be able to continue with their cultivation of food crops and this restores soil’s nitrogen content.
“We also provide capacity building to the small holder farmers so that they are able to produce efficiently and with organic practices… be able to attract even better pricing. We are confident that this crop will thrive very well, from our excellent field experience.
“We urge those receiving these seedlings to practice these good agricultural methods so that their returns may be substantial,” he pointed out.
Gracing the meeting, Mwanga District Commissioner, Thomas Apson witnessed a truck load of 1,200 seedlings and thanked the investor and urged the beneficiaries to make sure they take care of the crops, which will certainly transform their family income.
“It is high time Tanzania transformed its agriculture focusing on modern commercial crops, which in turn will attract industrialization in line with our industrialization drive that consolidated the country to a middle-income nation,” he said.
Reached for a comment, some farmers who were present at the event thanked the DC and the investor for making the crop available to them in the district, saying they are pioneering the cultivation that will improve their livelihoods.
“Macadamia trees are environmentally friendly and together with other short-term crops, we are still able to intercrop and will continue to earn income from various sources in the same farm,” said Hamisi Hamisi, one of the farmers.