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    | By Sendoi Ndopu Sioma | 27th January 2022

    Provincial Minister for Western Province Kapelwa Mbangweta is encouraging farmers who are beneficiaries of the Cashew Infrastructure Project (CIDP) which is funded by the African Development Bank, to continue growing the crop and be patient as it is a long-term investment. He said this during a Cashew monitoring in Sioma district. He also said the crop can be a potential replacement for copper.

    “When we went to Tanzania with some of these farmers during an exposure visit, we saw that this has a lot of potentials. If the Tanzanians could do it to the extent that now they are producing 318000 metric tons of Cashew, and they are aspiring to get to 700000 metric tons, it means that the crop could be a replacement for a lot of things maybe including copper,” he said.

    “So, my word of encouragement to the farmers who are in this business is to continue, good things take time, they do not come easy, but of course the rewards are massive,” added Mr. Mbangweta.

    Farmers in Sioma District are thankful to the Government for the CIDP program, as they are looking to employ it as a structure to modify their lives. Mrs Kamitondo Kamulyati of Nangweshi camp from  Sioma district was one of the farmers that were visited by the minister and has already started harvesting her Cashew currently having a 50kg bag which is ready for sale.

    “We got into Cashew farming because we were told that there is money……... we have been selling for two years now and our only hope is that the prices do not go down, we are very thankful to the Ministry of Agriculture staff for the work they have done by guiding us,” said Mrs Kamulyati.

    The Project coordinator Charles Kapekele Chileya, who was part of the team conducting the monitoring, elucidated the current market value of Cashew Nuts to the farmers within the province, citing that the crop is attracting a lucrative potential of k500 from one 50kg bag of which the common crops such as Maize and Cassava cannot match.

    “Good quality of nuts if sold locally within the province, this year’s price has been fixed at k10 per Kilogram. Meaning a 50 Kg bag would give her k500 per bag, which is higher than Maize and Cassava,” said Mr Chileya.

    Another farmer that was visited was Mr.  Nalishebo Sitongo of Nangweshi agriculture camp, who is one of the farmers that attended the exposure visit to Tanzania, he outlined some of the lessons he attained.

    “We learned about Cashew processing which we never knew here……. We went as far as Mutolo farms and we learnt about heavy and light pronging which has made me realize the mistakes I have been making in my fields and I am going to correct them in order to increase productivity.

    While the world continues the fight against climate change, the minister further rationalized how the cashew trees would be beneficial to the environment.

    “From the environmental point of view, it is also good to grow Cashew trees as they protect the environment. Imagine if everyone in Western Province was going to grow a minimum of 5 five trees, as part of climate mitigation, we would still benefit a lot,” said Mr Mbangweta.

    Sioma District currently has around 4500 farmers with each having over 50 trees that have benefited from the project so far, and if used to their potential the crop has life-changing effects, as it is more expensive on the market than the price of copper.