In the past five years, the production of cashew nuts in Mozambique has risen by 75 per cent – from 80,000 tonnes in the 2014/2015 agricultural year to 140,000 tonnes in 2018/2019, according to Agriculture Minister Higino de Marrule.
Speaking on Thursday at the opening of a meeting in Maputo of the Technical Council of the National Cashew Promotion Institute (Incaju), Marrule said that after a “disturbed period” in the late 1990s, the cashew sector has recovered.
So has the cashew processing industry, which two decades ago had been almost entirely destroyed thanks to diktats from the World Bank. Marrule said there are now 17 cashew processing factories in Mozambique. They currently process 60,000 tonnes of nuts a year, although they have the potential capacity to process 110,000 tonnes. These factories, the Minister added, have a permanent work force of 17,000, consisting mostly of women and young people.
The Technical Council is discussing a new reference price for the farmers who produce cashew nuts. Marrrule said that all stakeholders in the chain of cashew production must feel that they have been reasonably and equitably remunerated.
He regarded this as a basic condition for increased marketing and industrialisation of cashew nuts, and hence for the sustainable growth of this sector of the agricultural economy.
Most of the cashew nuts harvested are still exported raw (to markets such as India and Vietnam). Marrule said the key challenge was to reduce exports of raw nuts, and increase the exports of processed kernels.
Ilido Bande, the director of Incaju, said the target for the 2019/2020 campaign is to market 148,300 tonnes of nuts, which would be an increase of about four per cent on last year’s figure. Preliminary figures are that 84,000 tonnes will be purchased by the Mozambican processing factories, while the rest will be exported raw.