Dar es Salaam — Cashew nuts production will be short of target by over 20 percent this year, new projections by the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) show.
Earlier projections had put the cashew nuts production at 278,000 tonnes for the 2020/21 harvest season. But this may not be reached for various reasons including vagaries of the weather and crop diseases.
CBT said yesterday 159,196 tonnes of the produce worth Sh379.929 billion have been sold by six cooperative unions in the four major growing regions of Mtwara; Lindi; Ruvuma and Coast.
That amount was traded in ongoing auctions by Masasi and Mtwara Cooperative Union (Mamcu); Tandahimba and Newala Cooperative Union (Tanecu); Ruagwa, Nachingwea and Liwale Cooperative Union (Runali); Lindi Mwambao; Tunduru Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Union (Tamcu) and Coast Region Cooperative Union (Corecu).
CBT's acting director general Francis Alfred told The Citizen yesterday that production trends are that the 278,000 tonnes targeted production will not be reached.
"The decline is attributed to various factors, including changes in the weather and the eruption of diseases," he said.
The decline means cashews production will go down by over 55,600 tonnes accounting for low harvests as compared to 232,681.8 tonnes produced last season.
Over 313,000 tonnes were produced and exported in the 2017/18 season, earning $575 million (about Sh1.3 trillion) before declining to 225,304.98 tonnes in the next season.
He said 159,196.17 tonnes of the produce worth Sh379.929 billion have been sold reaching the 40th round of auctions in November 30, this year.
"At least 116,395.73 tonnes of purchased produce have been exported to India, China and Vietnam as of November 30, 2020 in accordance with the export permits," he said.
Data from CBT shows that Mamcu has sold 56,789.06 tonnes worth Sh137.374 billion, while Tanecu and Runali traded 35,701.24 and 33,828.77 tonnes each, valuing Sh86.53 billion and Sh81.197 billion respectively.
Furthermore, data shows that while Lindi Mwambao and Tamcu traded 19,898.31 and 10,316.56 tonnes valuing Sh46.684 billion and Sh24.07 billion respectively, Corecu sold 2,662.23 tonnes worth Sh4.085.04 billion.
Speaking to The Citizen, Mr Said Rashid of Kitama Ward in Tandahimba District, Mtwara Region said that, despite the smooth cashews trading season, payment delays remained challenges to farmers in the district.
"I don't know the reason behind payment delays in the district because our colleagues in Newala are paid few days after auctions. But, in Tandahimba, we are supposed to wait for over two weeks to have our money in accounts," he said over the phone.
Similar concerns were aired by a farmer in Mpindimbi Village, Masasi District in Mtwara Region where farmers have to wait up to three weeks for the payment to have been made.
"Also, balances used by Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Society (Amcos) exploit farmers as they provide fewer kilos as compared to actual weight of the consignments hence denying us proper payments," said a farmer who asked for anonymity.
Efforts to reach Tanecu and Mamcu officials to respond on the farmers' concerns proved futile yesterday.