Reports that a consignment of cashew nuts exported last year to Vietnam also contained a substantial amount of stones should be accorded the seriousness they deserve.
Cashew nuts are a leading foreign exchange earner for Tanzania, and any development that could adversely affect this status should be investigated promptly as rightly observed by Parliament's Agriculture, Livestock and Water Committee earlier in the week.
Instances where unscrupulous farmers engage in deception to maximise earnings are not uncommon. There have been cases in the past of cotton being soaked in water to make it heavier. While crooked farmers laugh all the way to the bank, buyers are left to count their losses.
However, such ill-gotten gains are usually short-lived as buyers inevitably become wiser and avoid buying crops from areas where farmers habitually engage in such trickery. This is what could happen if potentially damaging allegations raised by Vietnamese cashew nut buyers are not investigated as a matter of urgency.
After cashew nuts attracted record prices last season, it will be foolhardy to allow buyer confidence to be dented by a few greedy individuals.