February 9, 2004

Sharp fall in cashew production

Despite every effort to improve the productivity of Mozambique's cashew orchard, the cashew nut harvest from the 2003/04 season is likely to show a 20 percent decline on the previous year. Announcing this bad news, the director of the National Cashew Institute (INCAJU), Clementina Machungo, blamed the decline on irregular rainfall, and fungal infections. She said that INCAJU had received about 14 million US$ from the European Union and from the French Development Agency (AFD) to plant more cashew trees, and to restore the existing ones to health, including through a campaign of chemical spraying. This programme has been underway for four years, and in that period, INCAJU has planted over 100.000 new cashew trees. The figure may sound large, but it was nowhere near enough.

Back in 1997, the study on the cashew trade by the respected consultancy firm Deloitte Touche warned that about a million cashew trees were dying every year, and disease had drastically cut the production of many others. To halt the decline, the study suggested the government should plant 1.5 million trees a year. "INCAJU is continuing with the projects identified five years ago", said Machungo. "These are projects that seek to increase the levels of production and processing". She said that in the initial years of the programme production rose, but this season had seen a sharp drop. As for processing, the industry now barely exists. Most of the factories remain closed thanks to the sharp reduction in protection, demanded by the World Bank, and the encouragement of the export of raw nuts to India. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)


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