Efforts are being made to enable more regions of Tanzania Mainland to start growing cashew nuts.
According to Dr Fortunus Kapinga, of Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (Tari), apart from being grown in five traditional regions of Mtwara, Lindi, Coast, Ruvuma and Tanga, the crop will now be grown in 13 other regions.
The regions which have joined the cashewnut bandwagon are Dodoma, Tabora, Singida, Kigoma, Katavi, Songwe and Mbeya. Others are Iringa, Njombe, Shinyanga, Kilimanjaro, Rukwa and Morogoro.
Researchers argue that diversifying cashew nut growing regions will have two main advantages.
Firstly, it will enable the country to have two seasons of cashew nut harvests per year, which will boost the output and farmer incomes, and will directly reflect on the country’s exports income.
For example research has established that cashew nut grown in Singida and Dodoma could be harvested twice a year, something that will enable Tanzania to exports the crop twice or three times annually.
Secondly, the addition of central, southern highlands and lake zones regions into the cashew nut growing zone will also help to mitigate the risks of crop disease, draught and climate change.
We commend efforts to extend cashewnut growing regions for intended benefits. The nature of cashew nut cultivation is such that as, a perennial crop, it has ample benefits to farmers, including helping them to save time for other activities.
Demand for cashew nuts is increasing not only in far off countries of Asia, but also locally, and in the East African region, what with the increase of the middle class and the booming hotel sector.
Statistics show that in Tanzania cashew nut is a trillion shilling crop, with its value equivalent to a combined exports earning of cotton, tea, tobacco and coffee.
So, increasing number of regions growing cashew will be important milestone to the country’s exports, while upgrading the incomes of farmers and overall economies of new regions.