The National Social Security Fund is planning to invest heavily in cashew nut processing plants in the southern regions of Lindi and Mtwara.
Speaking in Arusha yesterday at the ongoing third stakeholders’ forum, NSSF Director General, Dr Ramadhan Dau said the plan aims at adding value to the cashew crop, which in most cases is exported while raw.
In the proposed plan, NSSF is expected to establish new factories or rehabilitate the existing ones in a joint ventures with owners.
It is estimated that the venture will cost between US$35 million (56bn/-) and US$40million (64bn/-) upon its completion.
“We have done requisite feasibility studies on the project. In this we’ll be working closely with local government authorities in the area,” Dr Dau said, disclosing that talks were underway with Tandahimba District Council on the proposed idea.
He said the main challenge to the country’s agricultural products is that they are being exported raw and so fetch low prices, while also creating employment for the countries where they are sold.
At the moment the price of cashew nuts when exported raw is US $ 1.0 or just 1,600/- per kilo, but when processed the same kilo can fetch more than US $ 7 or 11,200/-, seven times the value of the raw product and enough to transform producers’ lives for the better.
The NSSF’s plan is in line with the recent government call to local investors to take up cashew nut processing to add value to the produce and change farmers’ lives in the country.
Most of Tanzania’s cashewnuts are processed in India.
At the moment Tanzania exports only 20 percent of processed cashewnuts, denying it the opportunity to earn more foreign exchange.
There are only three working plants located in Mtwara, Dar es Salaam and Newala which can process not more than 20,000 tonnes a year.
Tanzania produces over 150,000 tonnes of cashew nuts annually.
Cashewnuts provide an important source of income for some 250,000 smallholder farmers in the southern coastal regions of Coast, Lindi, Mtwara, and Ruvuma. It accounts for 80-90 percent of Tanzania’s marketed cashew crop.