By Herbert Musoke and Joshua Kato
Uganda hardly registers on the international market for cashew nuts, but that could soon change.
Florence Kata, the director of Prime Agro Ltd who have established a nursery bed in partnership with Uganda Cashew nut and Tree Ltd in Zirobwe town council-Luweero in the efforts to promote the growth and production of the nuts in Luwero and central Uganda in general.
She says the main aim is to introduce cashew nut trees as a perennial cash crop in Luwero and the central region by encouraging smallholder cashew nut production and productivity as an additional source of income for the livelihood of farmers.
“With the available evidence about the benefits of cashew nuts, we want to encourage Ugandans to take up the crop with a bigger dream of making this place a one-stop centre for cashew nuts where farmers can learn, acquire quality planting seedlings, market for the harvest and establish a processing plant such that we handle the whole value chain,” she explains.
The crop was first introduced in Uganda in the 1970s by traders. However, due to the political instabilities at the time and the fact that the crop needs special care during the early period, the trees diedout.
It was reintroduced in the early 2000s by NARO and has since been grown by a few farmers.
“This crop is very profitable to the extent that in Tanzania for one to trade in cashew nuts must obtain the buying licence from the Cashew Nut board of Tanzania, a dispatch notes from any corporate union among other requirements. So, we intend to promote its growth in Uganda such that we can also benefit from its revenue,” Patrick Joseph Okilan, an expert with National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) says.
According to Tridge, a global source hub on food and agriculture, Vietnam led in the export of cashew nuts both fresh and dried in 2020 at US$2.3b accounting for 65% followed by India in second position fetching US$408m (11%), Netherlands $271m (8%), Germany US$201m (6%) and Brazil US$74m (2%).
In Africa, Ivory Coast was the world’s largest producer with 793,000 metric tonnes in 2019 and Vietnam was ranked third as it produced 283,000 tonnes. Overall, the estimated world cashew nuts requirement is 12 million tonnes but just about four million tonnes is produced, leaving a deficit of eight million tonnes.