Maputo — Mozambique produced 95,000 tonnes of cashew nuts in the 2007/2008 harvest, thus easily surpassing the target of 85,000 tonnes, according to the director of the government's Cashew Promotion Institute (INCAJU), Filomena Maiopue.
She said that production in the latest campaign was "very good and is an indication that, thanks to our efforts, this cash crop is recovering, after a number of years when it was in decline".
Maiopue told AIM that of the 95,000 tonnes, 32,000 were exported raw, mainly to the Indian market, and the remaining nuts are being processed internally in both the formal and informal sectors.
She put the average price earned by exports of raw cashew nuts at 750 US dollars a tonne, a dramatic increase, given that over the previous three years the maximum price for a tonne of the nuts was no more than 500 US dollars'.
She added that the price earned by the peasant harvesters of the nuts was also good. She said they had sold their nuts at between 12 and 15 meticais (50 to 62 US cents) a kilo in the northern region, and between seven and eight meticais in the southern region.
"The price of processed kernels was also high", said Maiopue. "That's why people don't mind paying 750 US dollars per ton of raw nuts, because they are sure of selling the kernels at a good price".
Official statistics show that exports in the cashew sector (both the raw nuts and the processed kernels from Mozambican factories) yielded 40 million US dollars in 2007, which was a decline when compared with 2005, when the sector earned 48.5 million US dollars.
For the 2008/09 campaign, plans are to produce 95,000 tonnes. "This is what is planned, but we believe that we will surpass this figure, thanks to all the preparation work being done by INCAJU and by the producers themselves, including the private sector", said Maiopue.
She explained that in some districts in the northern province of Nampula, the major cashew producing area, work has already started on treating the trees against oidio (the fungus that causes powdery mildew and sharply reduces yields) and there is an ongoing awareness campaign among the residents to treat their plantations.
Maiopue added that two cashew processing factories that had been damaged by cyclone Jokwe when it hit the Nampula coastal region in March, have been rebuilt and are now fully operational.
She also announced plans to build another factory, also in Nampula, with a capacity to process about 7,000 tonnes of cashew nuts a year, employing about 2,000 workers. This would make it the largest cashew plant in the country.