Dar es Salaam. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told Parliament yesterday that the government will seek buyers outside the country to purchase thousands of tonnes of cashew nuts piled up in warehouses in Lindi and Mtwara regions.
Responding to a question by Mtwara Urban MP Maftaha Nachuma, Mr Majaliwa said the government was holding talks with major buyers from foreign countries, adding that the Ministry of Agriculture was due meet some of them in Dodoma yesterday.
“At 11am today (yesterday), the minister will meet some of these buyers. It’s only after the meeting that the government will be in a position to state how many tonnes will be sold,” he said.
Mr Nachuma had wanted to know the quantity of cashew nuts that had been bought since resumption of auctions last Friday.
Tanzania, one of the world’s largest producers of cashew nuts, produced 265,000 tonnes of the crop in the 2016/17 season.
The government’s decision came after buyers failed to show up at auctions in key cashew nut producing regions on the grounds that the minimum price of Sh3,000 per kilogramme set by the government is too high.
Reports from Mtwara said the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) had to suspend the auctions yesterday due to a lack of buyers.
The Tandahimba and Newala Cooperative Union (Tanecu) and Masasi and Mtwara Cooperative Union (Mamcu) were to hold the second round of auctions today, but officials said they would not take place.
CBT was not immediately available for comment, but Tanecu chairman Shaibu Aifai told The Citizen that the board had informed him of the government’s decision.
“The second round of the auction will not take place tomorrow as scheduled,” he said in a telephone interview.
The suspension was also confirmed by Mtwara Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa.
“Cashew auctions have been suspended until further notice. Contact CBT for more details,” he said.
This is the second time auctions have been suspended over pricing concerns in recent weeks. Auctions were initially called off after farmers boycotted them in protest at the price of Sh1,550 set by CBT, which they said was too low.
President John Magufuli intervened, and directed that cashew nuts be bought at a minimum price of Sh3,000.
However, only a fraction of harvests has been bought since auctions resumed last week.