Cashew smuggling is the root cause of a lack of raw materials which is forcing processing factories to close, leaving thousands of workers unemployed.
This was the finding presented on Saturday by participants in a debate entitled “Challenges and Opportunities in the Marketing and Processing of Cashew Nuts: The Nampula Case”, promoted by the Bank of Mozambique in the city of Nampula as part of its 46th Advisory Council.
The situation is worrying, data released at the event indicate: of the 17 processing factories in the country, only nine are currently in operation. Lack of raw material means the idle units are not expected to reopen at any time.
Average cashew production in the last five years in the country was 140,000 tons, but only 40,000 tons arrived at industrial processing units.
It was also noted at the meeting that around 35% of the cashew nuts produced in Mozambique are diverted to the informal market, at the expense of exports.
Intervening in the debate, economist Tomaz Salomão considered it inconceivable that over 80,000 tons of cashew nuts evaded the normal commercialisation circuit.
“We are experiencing chaos in the cashew sector in the country, and that is unacceptable. The debate on structural measures for the sector must involve other players such as, for example, higher education institutions, which must also promote the investigation of phenomena in this sector,” he urged.
Maputo mayor Eneas Comiche also stressed that the increase in production and productivity in the cashew sector requires a commitment to scientific research involving academics in the country’s universities.
The Governor of the Bank of Mozambique, Rogério Zandamela, meanwhile said that the debate constituted “a great learning experience” in the search for ways for Mozambique to return to being a power in the production and marketing of cashew nuts, with valuable inputs and recommendations to help resolve the issue on display.
“We express our commitment to continue researching the issue of production, marketing and processing of cashew nuts, with a view to contributing to overcoming the main constraints facing the sector,” Zandamela said.
The state, Zandamela added, plays an important role as the guiding entity in seeking solutions so that the country in general, and Nampula in particular, could “occupy their deserved rank, not only in the region but in the world”.