It seems Tanzania’s cashewnut puzzle is far from being solved despite the government working effortlessly to ensure that the farmers are compensated accordingly.
On February 2nd during a National Assembly sitting, Hon. Hamidu Bombali, legislator representing Mchinga stated he was sure beyond reasonable doubt that the cashew farmers were being underpaid despite the president`s call to have them compensated as deserved.
The legislator argued that the farmers were being paid Tshs.2640 ($1.14) despite President John Magufuli`s order to have the farmers paid Tshs.3300 ($1.4) for a kilo of cashew. The legislator went further stating that if the allegations were proved wrong, then he was willing to step down from his position as legislator. The deputy Minister responsible for Industry and Trade, Miss Stella Manyanya retaliated rubbishing Hon. Hamidu`s allegations calling them politically motivated.
The cashew nut issue in Tanzania has been characterized with a lot of turmoil ever since the president banned traders from purchasing raw cashew from the farmers, and instead promised the government to handle the compensation procedure. The president was angered by the traders who had backtracked on their agreement to pay Tshs.3000 ($ 1.36) per kilo during a meeting they had held with the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa.
He ordered the military to collect the cashew from the Southern cashew growing region with the assistance of 75 trucks with a 20 tonnage capacity and ferry the consignment to storage facilities in Dar es Salaam. The president therefore directed the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) to compensate the farmers, and also emphasized that compensation should be made to those whom verification has been conducted and been found to own farms on which the cashew was grown.
In the event of this turmoil, the Chairman of the Cashewnut Board, Ministers Charles Tizeba and Charles Mwijage, who were Ministers for Agriculture and Trade and Industry respectively, were sacked citing their failure to protect the interests of the farmers.
Last week, Indo Power Solutions Limited, a Kenyan firm showed interest in purchasing 100,000 tonnes of Tanzania`s cashew consignment for an amount of Tshs.418 billion ($181.7 million). This contract was signed at the East African Community headquarters in Arusha between Tanzania`s Cereals and other Produce Board director, Hussein Mansour and Indo Power`s chief executive Brian Mutembei in the presence of Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Professor Palamagamba Kabudi, Industry and Trade Minister Joseph Kakunda and the Bank of Tanzania governor Professor Florens Luoga. The payments are expected to be made to the central bank this week and shipment of the consignment to Kenya is expected to commence immediately after the payment.
Tanzania produced about 240,000 tonnes of cashewnuts during the 2017/2018 season, of which the government bought 213,000 tonnes for which it paid farmers Tsh416.4 billion ($180.2 million).There is another 113,000 tonnes of cashewnuts in warehouses and the government is negotiating with 18 potential buyers.