SONGEA Vocational Training Centre has designed a cashew nut processing machine to help small scale processors to improve the quality of the nut.
The machine has the capacity of processing an approximately 60 kilograms of cashew nuts per day. A teacher, Mr Susack Mbulu, said yesterday at the ongoing 43rd Dar es Salam International Trade Fair that they started working on the idea over the past six months with the aim of helping cashew nut growers in southern regions, especially small scale processors, to improve crop quality.
He said the roasting method being used by most small holder farmers to process cashews was very complicated and does not guarantee quality. "With this machine, they can process their cashew nuts and put them in three different grades when the cashew nuts are well dried, they can be easily processed, nuts will be of high quality and thus fetch a good market," he said.
He said that plans were underway to modify the machine so that it can use electricity or have a motor fixed on it, so that it can be easily operated to increase its capacity.
Mr Mbulu further said that the machine can be purchased at 400,000/-but they were expecting the price to decrease by 50 percent as they continue to make some modifications.
He said that the materials used to make the machine such as angle iron, flat pipes among others were available in the country.
Mr Mbulu called upon cashew nut farmers and traders to visit VETA offices so that they can benefit from various innovative products.
He said the training offered at the centre aimed at preparing the students to produce different products which are useful to the society.
One of Veta-Songea students, Mr Kandidus Nchimbi, said that they were very happy to see that their innovation had benefited the framers directly.
In December last year, the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), unveiled a plan to build capacity for local cashew nut processors, to enable them increase production and value addition to the cash crop.
During his tour of of Kitangari Village in Newala District, Mtwara Region, TADB Managing Director, Japhet Justine inspected cashew nut processing activities, by small scale processors, stressing that capacity building for the crop processors was the bank's top priority.
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 to change as the country is also establishing processing plants under the PPP model with the involvement of producer cooperatives and the government.