Dar es Salaam — Two companies from India and Kenya wanted to buy 130,000 tonnes of cashew nuts from Tanzania for a price of Sh3,800 and Sh3,500 a kilo respectively, an official report shows.
Kerera from India bid for 30,000 tonnes of raw cashews at $1,650 a tonne, which translates to Sh3,800 a kilo at the prevailing exchange rate.
Indopower Solutions of Kenya bid for 100,000 tonnes of the produce at $1,535 a tonne or some Sh3,531 per kilo, according to the report.
The two companies, however, did not get the opportunity to buy the cashews after the move by the government to lock out private buyers from the market.
They were among nine private buyers who had shown interest in Tanzanian cashews and beat the set government deadline last month to provide their bids through the office of the Prime Minister.
There were three local companies in the list who bid for between 500 to 100,000 tonnes for a price that was however not indicated in the report.
The report seen by The Citizen was drafted by a task force assembled by the government on the implementation of the cashew nut operation being overseen by the Tanzania Peoples Defence Force (TPDF). The report details several aspects of the cashew production and marketing sector to inform government decisions.
The government intervened to buy the entire produce itself after President John Magufuli announced he was unsatisfied with the buyers' response and speed.
Dr Magufuli directed that farmers be paid a minimum price of Sh3,300 per kilo for their produce.
The head of state told the prospective buyers that if they thought the price was too high, the government would buy all the cashew nuts and seek a market for the crop.
Dr Magufuli also said all the cashews will be processed locally. According to the report, Tanzania expect to harvest 270,000 tonnes of cashews this season from an earlier estimate of 210,000 tonnes. The harvest was 313,826 tonnes last year.
Other companies shown in the list are Vinacas from Vietnam which would have bought the largest consignment of 220,000 tonnes at a price $1,250 per tonne, which is equivalent to Sh2,875 per kilo.
Tanzanian firms that bid were Jonasia Enterprises (100,000 tonnes), Biotan Company (500 tonnes) at a price of Sh3,013 per kilo. T.masasi Agro industries also from Tanzania wanted to buy 25,000 tonnes.
Other companies are Chino Sino Light from China (20,000 tonnes) and a Canadian company, Best Gourmet Cofee Co. Ltd, which wanted to buy 200 tonnes.
The government first intervened in the marketing of the produce when farmer associations and cooperative unions refused to sell for a price ranging from Sh1,900 to Sh2,717 per kilogramme, depending on the quality. This was a sharp drop from an average of Sh3,600 offered last season. The highest price last season was said to have been Sh4,000 a kilo.
The government told The Citizen last week that it has already paid Sh50.02 billion to 49,770 farmers from 199 verified farmer associations (Amcos), with agriculture minister Japhet Hasunga noting that a total of 228 Amcos had been verified.
Contacted by The Citizen, many of the locked out companies did not return answers sent to them via email. Ms Joyce Mmasi from Jonasia Enterprises said she couldn't say anything on the matter.