Cashew nut production in Tanzania provides up to fifteen percent of foreign currency and ranks fourth in Africa. Tanzania has been engaged in the production of the cash crop since before independence however, poor regulation and lack of reliable payments to farmers have posed significant challenges to the Cashew Nut farming industry in Tanzania.
The cash crop is usually cultivated in the southern coastal regions of the country, specifically in Mtwara, Lindi and Dar es Salaam regions. The south has always been a major producer.
The origin of the seed, however, was in South America, particularly Brazil. The Portuguese brought it from here to Europe. They also introduced it to Tanzania in the 1500s. The sale and marketing of the product in Tanzania is run by the Cashewnut Board of Tanzania, through various farmer co-operatives.
In April 2020 Mtandao wa Vikundi vya Wakulima Tanzania (MVIWATA) members in Mtwara, Lindi and Pwani regions met and organized a meeting among themselves to discuss and resolve cashew nut challenges they face. MVIWATA members in such regions are producers of cashew nut and also members of farmer co-operatives.
Meetings were organized and held in Liwale, Masasi, Newala and Mkuranga Districts by famers accompanied by MVIWATA staffs. In these meetings critical challenges facing cashew nut producers were revealed and discussed in Liwale and Mkuranga Districts. These challenges ranged from local farmers’ co-operatives, main co-operatives, and government interventions in cashew nut market.
Lack of on-time delivery of bags for storage of cashew nut and sluggish with inefficient system of cashew nut collection in local farmers co-operatives, sabotage of farmers through changing of cashew nut grades without their presence and approval and late payments for cashew nuts already sold in collective markets, were revealed as critical challenges that needs immediate solutions in Liwale District, Lindi region for sustainable production.
In Mkuranga region cashew nuts for 2019/2020 season lacked market as their cashew nuts were graded as rejects. Therefore farmers through their local co-operatives were required to pay a tax of 200 TZS per kilogram and collect their cashew nuts at local farmer co-operatives in order to find markets in their own.
With these concerns of MVIWATA members, a consultative meeting with Hon Omary Mgumba a Deputy Minister for Agriculture was organized where farmers presented the said issues before him.
In Mkuranga district, as a way to resolve challenges, MVIWATA organized a media visit whereby smallholder farmers aired their issues. Upon these initiatives as for Liwale District, Deputy Minister for Agriculture adhered to address the challenges immediately, while for smallholder farmers in Mkuranga, the district authorities dropped the tax from 200 TZS to 50 TZS after a media visit.
More than eighty-five percent of the cashew nut farmers are small holder farmers and have an average farm size of 1 hectare.