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Cashew production hits 4-year low, sales drop to Sh475bn

Saturday April 17 2021
Cashew pic
By Louis Kalumbia

Dar es Salaam. Cashewnut farmers earned low in the ending season as both production and prices slowed during the period.

The production of the crop hit a four-year low of 206,718.88 tonnes in the 2020/21 season, lowering income of farmers from growing regions. Last season, cashew production was 232,681.8 tonnes with the farmers pocketing Sh578.75 billion for selling the raw produce.

In the ending season, the farmers have pocketed Sh474.8 billion from 204,953.61 tonnes sold during auctions held in the 2020/21 season as per data of April 9, this year.

According to a recent report, the amount sold during auctions is part of 206,718.88 tonnes of the total production and that 1,765.28 tonnes were sold to domestic processors during the preliminary markets.

The 2020/21 raw cashewnut (RCN) trading season commenced on September 1, last year through the stakeholder’s general meeting held in Lindi Region and respective auctions that kicked off on October 9, last year.

A total of 50 licences were issued to cashew buyers which is 15 permits less as compared to 65 certifications made to firms in the 2019/20 season.

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During the season, the merchandise was traded through two systems namely: the Tender Box System (TBS) and the Tanzania Mercantile System (TMX).

According to a preliminary report by the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania (CBT) signed by its acting director general Francis Alfred and availed to The Citizen, 185,085.79 tonnes of the merchandise were sold through the TBS, while 19,867.81 tonnes were sold through the TMX. “As of April 9, the amount of cashews produced in the 2020/21 season has fallen short by 25 percent as compared to the 278,930 tonnes projected to be harvested this season,” says the CBT report.

CBT says the amount produced in the 2020/21 season was less by 11 percent when compared to 232,681.798 tonnes produced in the 2019/20 season. Furthermore, the report says that production in the 2020/21 season has gone down by 34 percent as compared to 313,826.39 tonne yields recorded in the 2017/18 season.

“However, RCN harvests and sales in some regions like Singida, Dodoma and Tanga were still underway,” according to the report.

According to the report, Mtwara Region collected 118,811.38 tonnes of the total amount, while Lindi and Ruvuma regions gathered 65,548.48 and 15,430.89 tonnes of cashews respectively.

Coast Region collected 6,805.88 tonnes at the time of filing the report, while Njombe, Mbeya and Tanga regions gathered 46.94, 40.32 and 35 tonnes respectively.

“Farmers in Mtwara Region pocketed a total of Sh279.813 billion out of 118,576,89 tonnes of RCN sold, while their Lindi Region counterparts received over Sh151.644 billion from 65,460,56 tonnes of the merchandise sold,” says report.

Furthermore, the report shows that farmers in Ruvuma Region gathered Sh35.259 billion from 15,430.89 tonnes sold, while Coast Region collected Sh7.989 billion from 5,364.51 tonnes.

“Farmers in Tanga Region have collected Sh48.41 million from 35 tonnes sold. The merchandise collected in Njombe and Mbeya regions remain unsold as on the day of filing the report,” reads the document.

According to the report, the price of the merchandise recorded between October and December, 2020 varied from Sh1,750 to Sh2,707 per kilo for the Grade A cashews, while the Grade B merchandise was sold between Sh1,300 and Sh2,003 per kilo.

“From January, 2021, prices declined to between Sh1,595 and Sh2,295 per kilo for the Grade A cashews and Sh1,333 and Sh1,950 for the Grade B cashews,” reads the report in part.

However, the report says over 50 percent of RCN was sold at between Sh2,350 and Sh2,707 per kilo, noting that prices declined by 6.3 and 9.6 percent as compared to the 2019/20 season when an average of Sh2,600 to Sh2,890 per kilo was recorded.

The report attributes the decline in prices to the outbreak of infectious coronavirus disease and competition from other growing countries including Mozambique, Brazil, Kenya, Zambia and Indonesia, whose season starts from October to February.

Between October and December 2020, Mozambique, Brazil and Indonesia sold their produce in India and Vietnam at $1,225 to $1,550 per tonne, while Tanzanian RCNs were sold at between $1,440 and $1,580 per tonne.

Report attributes the difference in prices to higher quality of Tanzanian cashews as compared to those from the country’s competitors.

Furthermore, report says that a total of 201,099.88 tonnes of the merchandise was transported reaching March 31, 2021 and the total destination countries and their respective tonnes in brackets are; India (52,412.30 tonnes); Vietnam (148,033.81 tonnes) and China (653.78 tonnes).

Report also says that an average of 132,599 tonnes have been transported through the Dar es Salaam Port, while 68,880 tonnes were shipped through the Mtwara Port.

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