Tanga — After two years of a steady development of cashew nuts in Mkinga District, in Tanga, Out-Growers Tanzania Limited, has finally put the seal on their activities designed to turn the area into a cashew nuts production giant.
The company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Mkinga District Council, effectively setting a framework for development of the crop whose production reached 1000 tonnes two years ago.
The MoU was recentlysigned by the Chairman of council, Mr Andrew Ngoda, the District Executive Director, Mr Rashid Gembe, and the Company Secretary, Mr Projectus Rwehumbiza and operations manager, Mr Jack Dima.
According to the Company's Tanga branch manager, Mr Reginald Mpollo, the purpose of the MoU is to establish a clear and common understanding between Mkinga District Council and Out-growers Tanzania Limited to boost cashew farmers' productivity.
Other activities are to identify mutually beneficial opportunities and areas of collaboration between the parties and to commit in principle to working together towards achieving shared and complementary goals.
"The framework formalises and ensures that the farmers attain production adequacy by boosting value addition by taking part in local processing," Mr Mpollo said. The company, he said seeks to help farmers maximise land productivity and product quality by improving farming techniques and involving them in local processing through producer groups clustered around a processing unit known as Harambee.
"The MoU aims at attaining high quality and traceability of cashew in a way that ensures better living conditions for farmers," said Mr Mpollo.
He explained that buyers and consumers have a tendency of identifying the source of cashew nuts they were purchasing.
The broad scope of the MoU will lead to development of a strategy and action plan towards realisation of the aim to boost cashew farmers' productivity and value chain addition.
Others areas are defining clear roles and responsibilities of Mkinga District Council and Out-Growers, promoting production and distribution of high quality seedlings and discussing value added post-production and cashew by-products and introduce better management of existing cashew orchards.
It also seeks to improve productivity through innovative techniques and aid the replacement of all senile and unproductive old cashew plantations, with new high yielding varieties.
The MoU further seeks collaboration that includes promoting frontline technology dissemination through demonstration and support of infrastructure development at the processing units (Harambee).
Other areas are developing and deploying third party finance (such as local banks) for the implementation of a comprehensive farming programme, which includes training modules pertaining to cashew production, processing and value-addition and which will provide and promote self-sufficiency, and sustainability to every stakeholder.
Harambees will help the farmers become partners and produce branded value-added consumer goods.
through direct raw cashew-nut from the dedicated farmer's clubs.
The MoU also seeks to develop new female and youth entrepreneurs in the cashew-nut sector and strengthening cooperatives in the district.
Mr Dima said the villages to be involved in the first phase, the first machine would be installed at Nkanyevi Village. The other four that would be installed this year would be at Mahandakini, Mayomboni, Mazola Kilifi and Kibewani.
Company officials say the system is being tested in the district and would be expanded to other areas after successful introduction in Mkinga District.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, the Chairman of the Council, Mr Andrew Ngoda, thanked the company for choosing the district for developing cashew nut farming, saying that it would boost farmers and district council's earnings.
The manager of the Cashew Development Board of Tanga Branch, Ms Ugumba Kilasa, said collaboration came at the right time when the government is intensifying its determination to add value, a move that will increase farmers income.
The company came to the district in 2015 seeking to take part directly in production and processing of cashew nuts.