DAR ES SALAAM: VICE-PRESIDENT, Dr Philip Mpango has called on African countries to boost local consumption of cashewnuts and their by-products and tap into the enormous continental market of almost 1.4 billion people, under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Launching Tanzania International Cashew Conference in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, Dr Mpango also tasked the Ministry of Agriculture to fast track investments in cashew processing factories.
“It is imperative for African countries to work on reducing cashews consumer prices, so as to promote regional market for the crop and its related products, said Dr Mpango at the conference organised by African Cashew Alliance in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT).
The conference brought together farmers, processors, cooperatives, traders, regulators, consumers, financial institutions, development partners, policy makers and other stakeholders of the cashew value chain.
“Africa has a huge potential market of an estimated 1.4 billion people under the African Continental Free Trade Area, lets maximise this potential,” he said.
“Let us buy and consume cashewnut produced in our continent…But for this to happen, consumer prices must be affordable to the majority of our people,” Dr Mpango underlined.
He implored the cashew growing countries in Africa to check and put an end to malpractices in the industry such as unfair grading of cashews and supply of counterfeit pesticides.
He also invited potential investors to invest in the Tanzania’s cashew industry, saying the country has a comparative advantage in the cashew industry, manifested in its vast arable land and favourable weather conditions.
“Tanzania’s cashew harvest period (September-December) is the off season for other main producers (India, Vietnam and West Africa). Additionally, Tanzania’s soil and weather support growing of the large-sized cashew nuts species,” he added.
Dr Mpango said under the agriculture sector transformation agenda 10/30, the country is set to increase the growth of the agriculture sector from the annual average growth rate of 5 to 10 per cent by 2030.
“Similarly, production of raw cashews is projected to increase from an annual average of 220,000 tonnes over the last ten years (2013/14-2022/23) to 1,000,000 tonnes per annum by 2030, with intermediate targets of 400,000 tonnes in 2023/24 and 700,000 tonnes by 2026/27,” Dr Mpango added.
“These interventions are expected to scale up cashew nuts production and maintain Tanzania’s position as one of the top three producers in Africa,” he added.
He said the country also aims to process 60 per cent of raw cashew in order to add value and broaden its market, as well as promoting local consumption of cashew nuts and its by-products such as jam, juice, cashew milk, wine, ethanol and oil.
He said although several strides have been made, cashew growing countries, including Tanzania, still face some challenges such as about 90 per cent of produced cashew nuts is exported in raw form, thus fetching low prices.
“Export of raw cashew nuts is also tantamount to exporting jobs and earnings… those that are associated with extraction of the by-products. Therefore, every effort must be made to invest in modern processing facilities, roasteries and packaging techniques of our cashew prior to exportation.” He emphasised.
For his part, Agriculture Deputy Minister David Silinde said the government continues to focus on increasing the amount of locally processed raw cashew nuts in the country, including providing education, quality machines and providing a friendly environment for local cashew processors to source raw cashew nuts through primary market.
“We have already started increasing scope of processing to reach 60 per cent by 2030…One of the major initiatives is the establishment of Maranje Industrial Park in Mtwara region,” he added.
Domestic demand for cashew is low in Tanzania and the rest of Africa despite booming production.
The continent’s output in 2022 represents 58 per cent of the global cashew harvest, from 37 per cent in 2008, according to the Africa Cashew Alliance (ACA).
Côte d’Ivoire is by far Africa’s biggest cashew harvester. According to figures released by commodities markets analysts N’kalô the West African nation produced 1.123 million tonnes of cashew in 2021, a phenomenal 18 per cent leap from 2020. In 2022, Côte d’Ivoire again breached the 1 million tonne mark. In 2019, Côte d’Ivoire was the world’s third-largest producer (with 731,000 tonnes), after Vietnam (2.6 million tonnes) and India (786,000 tonnes).
In East Africa, Tanzania (300,000 tonnes) Mozambique (122,000 tonnes), and Kenya (6,000 tonnes) are key regional players.
However, by exporting the nut in its raw form, African countries have been failing to extract additional value from the commodity.