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    | By Rodgers Tembo | 20th March, 2022

    The cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP) being implemented in Western Province of Zambia has high potential to strengthen cooperatives who are involved in the cashew value chain through the developed cashew infrastructure in the ten (10) implementing districts.

    Mongu District Agricultural Coordinator, Chabalanga Ng’ambi said this during a market linkage tour to collect data for the establishment of a district cashew database for potential cashew buyers and processors as well as other stakeholders involved in the cashew value chain in Lusaka and the surrounding areas.

    Mr Ng’ambi said cashew production in the district is slowly increasing and cooperatives in the district need to position themselves to manage the harvests through a well mechanised and strategized marketing system.

    “Cashew harvests are increasing each year both from old and new trees hence there is need to harness these cashew nuts through a well-defined market system”, Mr Ng’ambi said.

    He said the CIDP has built infrastructure facilities such as bulking centres, sorting and storage centres, irrigation nurseries, and clonal gardens which are being handed over to cooperatives and well organised groups to manage and handle.

    Mr Ng’ambi highlighted that Mongu as a district is also in the process of training these cooperatives in warehouse receipt system, which is expected to provoke a chain reaction of business opportunities, such as transportation.

    “We want to equip our cooperatives and cashew farmers at large with knowledge and information which will enable them improve their production and be able to compete favourably on the cashew market”, he emphasised.

    In terms of production, it has been realised and observed that some trees produce big nuts, with small apples, while some produce big apples with small nuts, hence there is need to isolate elite trees which have good quality nuts.

    The market linkage tour was mainly characterized by interactive sessions with buyers and processors from the various market sites around Lusaka city, one of them being Nabeel Valli of Master Candy company.

    Mr Valli said he has been in the cashew processing business for a while now and has been buying about 3 to 4 tons of unprocessed cashew from Mongu District, mostly through Barotse Cashew Company.

    “The company had been buying processed cashew from western province particularly Mongu district for the past several years but this year, we have started buying unprocessed cashew nuts which we are processing on our own and then supply in several super markets in Lusaka and surrounding districts”, Mr Valli said.

    Mr Valli also highlighted that the company, in the near future, want to start an out-grower scheme where they would want to start supporting well organised cashew farmers to produce                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   quality nuts.

    Meanwhile, the Mongu District Crops Husbandry Officer, Quintine Hamoonga said the old trees which the farmers have mostly been harvesting from have a mixture of varieties of trees, with a variety of nut qualities where would-be mother trees have been identified for harvesting scions.

    Mr Hamoonga said the farmer training centres in the districts and the research institute are working on diversifying to polyclonal variety in order to come up with a variety which will have a uniform quality of nuts which the farmers can then replicate.

    “We have observed that the Brazilian dwarf variety flowers continuously making a farmer harvest twice in a year while the polyclonal variety only flowers once, hence we want our farmers to replicate what the farmer institute is doing through establishing clonal gardens”, Mr Hamoonga said.

    Mr Hamoonga added that once farmers are able to produce good quality cashew nuts, they will be able to support those individuals and groups who benefitted from the project matching grant through CEEC, to partially process the nuts.

    He said this in turn will give an opportunity to Mongu district to start supplying the much-needed high quality cashew nuts at competitive prices like those from Tanzania and Mozambique, which are also free from aflatoxins.

    The main development goal of the Cashew Infrastructure Development Project (CIDP) is to contribute to poverty reduction and contribute to Zambia’s economic growth and food security and improved household incomes through improved cashew production and processing. - NAIS