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Cashewnut Farmers Seek Govt Intervention As They Fault ‘Primary Marketing System’

Intended to encourage local cashew nut processing, farmers say the arrangement has been hijacked, and it no longer serves the intended goal.

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Dar es Salaam. Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe directed the formation of a special committee this week to investigate concerns that cashew nut farmers across Tanzania have raised regarding the primary marketing system, arguing that it does not serve its original purpose.

Introduced in the 2022/2023 season, the system allows local cashew nut processors to buy the cash crop at the ‘primary markets’ instead of getting them at the auctions conducted by cooperative unions, which are unfavourable to local processors. 

The government sought to encourage local cashew nut processing through the arrangement. This goal informed who can buy cashew nuts at the ‘primary markets,’ which should be processors only and not exporters. The price at the ‘primary markets’ tends to be lower than at the auctions.

But during a consultative meeting on November 27, 2023, in Mtwara, cashew nut farmers from across the country complained that the arrangement had been hijacked, noting that many exporters have been storming the ‘primary markets,’ a situation they said affects the cash crop’s prices at the auctions.

Farmers reported that large cashew nuts buyers from countries such as Vietnam have been spotted buying cashew nuts from farmers at the ‘primary markets’. They claimed that most of these cashew nuts are being transported at night, which they described as dangerous for the cash crop’s future and its farmers’ welfare.

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Saraji Mtenguka, the chairperson of the Mtwara-Masasi Co-operative Union (MAMCU), said during the meeting aimed at discussing challenges that cashew nut farmers face in Tanzania that since exporters started buying the cash crop at the ‘primary markets’ the number of those attending auctions have increasingly decreased. 

“We used to see over 50 exporters coming to auctions to buy cashew nut,” Mr Mtenguka said. “Now, we hardly see 20. But how would they come at auctions to buy cashew nuts for Sh1,700 per kilo when they can get the same for Sh1,300 at the ‘primary market?’”

A total of six cashew nut auctions have been organised so far in Lindi, Mtwara and Tunduru in Ruvuma. At the auctions, the highest price of a kilogram of cashew nut is Sh2,050, while the lowest is Sh1,700. 

Farmers have been complaining about the price, saying they fall short of promising a bright future for them as cash crop producers. According to information from the Cashew Board of Tanzania (CBT), 30 auctions have been organised across the country so far, selling 208,232 tons of raw cashew nuts.

Biadia Matipa is the manager of MAMCU, who explained why exporters prefer ‘primary markets’ to auctions, noting that they do so to avoid many levies that buyers at auctions are supposed to pay to the government.

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“Imagine a buyer buys one kilo of cashew nut for Sh1,700 but has to pay Sh247 as a levy per kilo,” Matipa explained. “But when the same buyer goes to buy the same kilo for Sh1,400, they pay no levy whatsoever. Perhaps it’s time we speak about the negative effects of these levies.”

Musa Mneng’erega, the chairperson of the Cost Region Co-operative Union (CORECU), asked relevant authorities to abolish the ‘primary market’ arrangement altogether, noting that it has failed to serve the intended goal and hurts ordinary farmers.

“We objected to this arrangement even before it was established,” Mneng’erega said. “It doesn’t have farmers’ interests at heart. Many farmers and their cooperative leaders warned that this was a scam. We were ignored then, but we must be heard now. This arrangement must stop.”

During the meeting, CBT’s Director-General Francis Alfred, who was chairing the meeting, received a call from Mr Bashe, who informed members that he had seen the complaints on social media, noting that the government would address them.

“We’re putting together a special team, just as you’ve suggested, which will go and look into these complaints in detail,” Bashe, who doubles as Nzega Ubarn MP (Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM), said during the phone call. 

He added: “[The team] will be comprised of diverse members, from farmers to members of security organs, and will have a term of reference that will allow them to work effectively towards the intended goal.”

Omari Mikoma reports for The Chanzo from Mtwara. He can be reached at

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