OPTIMISM is high in Nachingwea District that cashew nut production will pick up to reverse a declining trend in the output of the main cash crop after farmers supplied with farming inputs free of charge.
Nachingwea District Council Information Officer, Priscus Silayo, told Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN) journalists that cashew nut production had declined from 20,000 metric tonnes in 2016/17 season to 16,081 metric tonnes 2018/19 season mainly due fusarium wilt disease that causes massive wilting of the cashew trees.
Other factors attributed to falling production include old farming methods and failure by farmers to buy farm inputs despite receiving payments in their bank accounts from the produce of the previous season sold to cooperative societies, he said.
However, he said there were hopes that the declining trend in cashew production would be reversed after farmers were supplied with grafted seedlings and pesticides such as sulphur free of charge in the 2017/18 season.
Cashew nut is a top revenue earner for agriculture which is the main economic activity and a leading source of revenue for Nachingwea District Council.
The district leads in cashew nut production in Lindi Region with 21,687.75 metric tonnes in the 2017/18 year followed by Liwale District with 17,074.4 metric tonnes, according to Cashewnut Board of Tanzania statistics.
Cashew is a leading export crop for Tanzania and an important source of income for smallholder farmers in Lindi, Mtwara and Coast regions.
Tanzania earned 578.4 million US dollars (about 1.35tri/-) from cashew nut exports in the year ending January 2018 overtaking earnings from all other major cash crops - tobacco, cotton, tea, coffee, sisal and cloves - combined which raked in 472.1 million US dollars (about 1.1tri/-), according to Central Bank's monthly economic review of February.
More than 90 per cent of the exports are destined for India and almost entirely in raw form. However that is bound for change as the country is also establishing processing plants under the PPP model with the involvement of producer cooperative and the government.
In November last year President John Magufuli ordered the government to purchase the entire cashew nut harvest from farmers at the minimum price of 3,300/- per kilogramme through the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank after private buyers refused to increase their prices to 3,000/- .
The decision was reached after the state issued a fourday ultimatum to traders to buy cashew nuts at reasonable price. Tanzania harvested more than 200,000 tonnes of cashew nuts in the current harvesting season of the cash crop