Tanzania is seeking investors in cashew nut processing, with the aim of increasing local consumption and reducing exports.
After the debacle involving a little-known Kenyan company Indo Power Solutions that took the Tanzanian government for a ride in a $180 million deal, Dar es Salaam reckons that local processing will help secure a ready market for the nuts.
The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) has organised a forum next month whose key aim is to attract domestic and international investors in the cashew nut sector, which is witnessing an average growth of 450 per cent annually.
Geoffrey Mwambe, TIC executive director said they are seeking to establish cashew nut processing projects and industrial parks mainly in Lindi and Mtwara regions.
The search for processors comes at a time when the Tanzanian government is still holding a huge stock of cashew nuts estimated at 200,000 tonnes it bought from farmers in November last year after it failed to secure foreign buyers.
The government opted to buy all harvests after private buyers failed to up their prices as demanded by President John Pombe Magufuli.
The government doubled the prices for farmers from $0.64 per kilogramme to $1.2.
A deal with Indo Power early in the year for 100,000 tonnes blew up in smoke after it emerged that the firm was shadowy with no ability to raise $180 million to purchase the nuts.
Tanzania is among the world’s largest producers of raw cashew nuts having realised a total production of 313,826 tonnes in the 2017/18 crop year.
Notably, about 90 per cent of the cashew nuts are exported in their raw form owing to the country’s low processing capacity.
Tanzania is looking for investors to add value on the nuts and produce various products like cashew cheese or butter, lubricants, waterproofing and paints.
The country also wants investors for new cashew nut plantations to increase productivity, suppliers of machinery/equipment/spare parts and to put up industrial parks and processing zones.