Cashew tree productivity in Mozambique increase six-fold in eight years

15 March 2006

Maputo, Mozambique, 15 March – Cashew nut production in Mozambique is expected to reach over 100,000 tons per year with the implementation of a technology package developed by the country’s cashew institute (INCAJU) which has increased productivity six-fold since it began in 1998, INCAJU’s director told Macauhub.

The technology package is based on the chemical control of the trees to avoid the appearance of diseases and pests that have affected cashew production and modernizing cultivation techniques.

The program, which covers between 10 and 12 percent of the 26 million cashew trees planted in the country, has made it possible to increase production per tree from 2 kilos to 12 kilos, director Clementina Machungo told Macauhub.

Currently, average production per tree is of 3 kilos, and INCAJU expects an average increase to around 7 kilos over the next five years and to between 9 and 10 kilos within ten years.

Recently, the government announced that it would set up three factories for processing cashew, thus reactivating the industry with forecasts of annual production of 100,000 tons, a target reached in 2004/2005.

“We have overcome the critical phase and are now recovering production levels in terms of both quality and quantity,” Machungo said.

“With these figures, Mozambique returns to its status of individual exporter rather than being included in the category of ‘other exporters’,” Machungo added.

At its independence in 1975 Mozambique was the world’s largest producer of cashew nuts, but in 1984, cashew production fell below the 100,000 ton mark for the first time in many years, and since then has remained within tens of thousands of tons per year.

After 16 years of civil war, between 1976 and 1992, the sector was deeply affected by disease and aging of trees, which decimated Mozambique’s cashew production, while the processing industry required a large amount of investment.

However, financing from the World Bank of over US$400 million for national reconciliation imposed the liberalization of cashew exports and reduced export tax on the product from 26 percent to 14 percent.

As a result just five of the 15 most important processing factories remained open and more than 5,000 workers lost their jobs.

According to a report published in the 1990s Mozambique was losing US$150 per ton of cashew nuts it exported without them being processed.

As a result of national opposition to World Bank measures, export taxes on cashews increased to 22 percent and were annually reviewed.

The industry currently employs 4550 people and cashew growing is in the hands of around 1 million families, of a total 18 million Mozambicans.

Nampula province in northern Mozambique accounts for around 60 percent of the country’s cashew production. (macauhub)