By JAMES KUNDA –
THE Zambian cashew nut industry in Western Province, has recorded significant growth with annual production soaring by 100 per cent to surpass local demand for the crop.
Cashew Growers Association of Zambia (CGAZ) chairperson Allan Chinambu said the industry has recorded growth which has enabled the country to produce 130,000 tonnes of raw cashew nut per annum, well above the local requirement of 50,000 tonnes.
Mr Chinambu said this is expected to earn the country an annual turnover of K425,000.
“The Western Province cashew hub has a total land mass of 1.3 million hectares covering six districts in the region.
“The hub has the potential to produce approximately 130,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts per annum and turnover of over K425,000,” Mr Chinambu said.
He said with this potential, the cashew industry can create 10,000 factory jobs, over 50,000 farm jobs and support over 100 rural smallholder farmers.
Mr Chinambu also explained that there was potential to expand the cashew hub to Zambezi East in North-Western Province.
“Growth however has continued to be hampered by low levels of production by the numerous and isolated small-scale producers in the rural areas.
This has resulted in traders and processors incurring high transaction costs to establish their own purchasing, bulking and storage arrangements,” he said.
Coupled with the lack of quality standards, this undermines consumer confidence and leaves the Zambian cashew value chain at a disadvantage on both domestic and export markets.
“Cashew farmers and processors, generally decry the limited availability of financial services coupled with the high cost of borrowing that hinders them from investing in developing and expanding their cashew enterprises.
Local banks generally should be responsive in developing appropriate financial products to support the cashew value chain in Zambia,” he added.