Tanzania plans to more than triple output of cashews to 1 million tons over the next four to five years, and potentially become the biggest exporter of the nuts.
Output will increase from an estimated 290,000 tons this season as the government encourages cultivation in more provinces and enhances transparency in the trade, according to Agriculture Minister Japhet Hasunga.
Tanzania’s target could affect pricing and supply chains in a market whose 2017-18 global output was 3.3 million tons, according to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council. More than half of the nuts came from African countries including Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau. India and Vietnam are the other main producers.
“We are aiming to grow the crop in at least 17 provinces” Hasunga said in an interview. Only five of the East African nation’s 30 provinces currently grow the kidney-shaped nuts.
Cashew production in Tanzania dropped to 225,000 tonnes in the last season from a peak of 313,223 tons, valued at $578.4 million, in 2017-18 after farmers halted sales in protest against low prices.
The government intervened by spending about $251 million to purchase almost 157,000 tons at rates 65% higher than traders’ offers. The state blamed secretive trading processes that forced unfavorable terms on the farmers, and amended the system for the current season.
Bids are now announced openly. “Once the farmers agree on the quoted prices then the deal is sealed,” Hasunga said. “We believe this move will eliminate corruption and enhance transparency.”