Government committed to supporting cashew processing – CBT Director

Acting Director-General of the Cashew nuts Board of Tanzania,  Francis Alfred, has expressed the government’s commitment to promoting cashew processing in Tanzania.

According to him, the government is committed to supporting local cashew processors, both as individuals and collectively to grow, increase their capacity and become sustainable.

Speaking during the Global Marketing Encounter (GME), a virtual forum organised by the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) last Wednesday, he said the government has put in place measures and incentives to encourage local processing of the tress crop to create more jobs and reduce poverty.

One of such measures, he said, is the initiative that allows processors to buy directly from farmers. He said this arrangement is already yielding positive results as processors are getting access to raw cashew nuts at competitive prices.

Contrary to claims that the initiative is affecting the competitiveness of the cashew auction system, he believed the initiative is rather fixing and improving the cashew system, explaining that local processors are increasingly becoming competitive.

A Market Information Systems (MIS), a cashew expert and host of the GME forum, Jim Fitzpatrick, believes the decision to allow processors to buy directly from producers is one of the best initiatives within the cashew industry in Africa. This, he said, is the right step to go as it will encourage processing in Tanzania and attract investors.

Encouraging processing in Africa, Managing Director of the ACA, Ernest Mintah, believes will not only facilitate the growth of the cashew sector in Africa but also make the global cashew industry sustainable.

“Tanzania is the second-largest producer of RCNs in Africa. Unfortunately, processing has always been low. The only way the industry can grow is through processing in Africa. This is also very important for the sustainability of the global industry. It is refreshing that Tanzania has such a policy that seeks to encourage local processors. This is a good initiative that needs to be sustained,” he said

One major challenge facing cashew processing in Tanzania and several other African countries is the low level of investment into local processing as investors are hardly attracted.

But according to Alfred, the government is working to make cashew processing attractive to both local and foreign investors by introducing several incentives to local processors

“Currently, incentives provided include government assisting investors willing to establish processing units to get land. We can also help them lease existing factories. Local processors also don’t pay export levies when exporting kernels,” he said.

The Cashew industry in Africa is considered by cashew market experts as the most promising of the global cashew industry. Raw cashew nuts (RCN) production in Africa, according to the ACA, is estimated at around 2.1 million tonnes, representing about 57% of global production. Tanzania’s production is projected by the CBT to be around 280, 000 tons this year.

Four weeks into the cashew auction, however, Alfred is uncertain if this projection can be achieved.   

Despite seeing some significant increase in the number of cashew factories to about 50, about three times more than the number a decade ago, local processing of the product in Africa remains very low, with only between 10% to 15% of production processed locally. The ACA attributes this to the fact that most of these processing plants are underutilised due to a lack of access to reliable sources of funding, lack of proper policies and regulation of the industry in most African countries, among others.