Current Trade News

Nampula - Mozambique is going nuts about cashews, and they're boosting the economy's health.

The country's cashew nut industry, one of the world's biggest, was dealt a body blow first by the 1977-1992 civil war and then by a controversial World Bank assistance package.

Now, the government is looking to help the curved, nutrient-packed nut to recover its past glory. In Nampula, in the country's north, the end of cashew nut season sees a processing factory burst into activity. Dozens of workers labour under a scorching hot roof, baked by the sweltering heat as they separate nut from shell with a stamp of the foot.

Condor Nuts, where they work, is one business that has seized on the support offered by the government having opened a plant in a suburb of Nampula in the heart of cashew country 10 years ago.

Condor boss Americo Matos told AFP that he was just getting started. "At the moment, we process 8 000 tonnes of nuts every year," he said. "Our goal is to quickly grow that to 10 000 tonnes a year and then, with our second factory, the company targets an overall capacity of 20 000 tonnes per year."

In Condor's warehouses, sacks brimming with nuts are piled several feet high. Hundreds of workers - as many as 1 000 at peak times - are on hand to cut, open and peel the harvest, often by hand. For working five or six hour days in noisy conditions, the workers are paid $55 a month, barely more than the minimum wage.

"Demand is very strong. We manage to sell everything we produce, the future is bright," Matos said. Europe's hungry for cashews

Business is also booming for Armendo Joaquim Balanca, whose 140 cashew trees produced two tonnes of nuts last year.

"That brought in $2 288," he said. "I invested half and used the rest to pay medical costs and the children's school fees." Buoyed by his success, he now plans to plant 500 new trees.

Since 2010, cashew consumption has surged in Europe, where the nuts have gained in popularity primarily because of their health benefits. Almost three million tonnes are harvested worldwide every year with Ivory Coast's crop leading the way with an annual production of 725 000 tonnes, followed by India and Vietnam.

With output of just 140 000 tonnes every year, Mozambique lags behind the top three producers but is closing the gap - and has big ambitions.

"The productivity of the cashew trees is increasing and our plans are, in the near future, to reach the historic level of 200 000 tonnes of nuts a year," said Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario.That symbolic figure was reached in the 1970s - the golden age of cashew farming - but the civil war brought the sector to its knees. When peace returned, the World Bank imposed a neoliberal economic recovery strategy that shook the sector.

Experts forced the government to end a tax which had funded development of the industry locally, convinced that the export of raw nuts would be more profitable for producers.

'A good opportunity'

The impact was devastating: 10 000 factory jobs were lost while the income of more than a million farmers went into freefall.

"The goal of the World Bank was to ensure that the prices were at a level high enough to be sustainable," said the current head of the World Bank's Mozambique office Mark Lundell.

"There were difficulties in implementing the project," he admitted. "Our focus has always been on trying to support the industry." Cashew nuts are now one of the crops fuelling growth in the agricultural sector. Today, almost half of the raw products are now processed locally.

"Without local industry, the producers would not have been unleashed," said the government's cashew industry promoter Jaime Chissico. "We process far more locally than our African rivals and, with the increasing demand for processed products, we are in a good position."

And while competition is fierce with India and Vietnam, Mozambique is holding its own and attracting international investors. Jan Le Grange, the South African owner of 1 300 hectares near Namialo to the east of Nampula, initially grew soya. But an overly dry year followed by a season of excessive rain forced him to rethink his plans.

"I decided to go for cashew trees," he said, citing stable global demand and resilient prices. Le Grange just planted 30 000 cashew trees, a number he soon hopes to triple. "It is a good opportunity. I'm very optimistic," he said.

 

Source: Fin24

Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development on Friday said it has enhanced roles for farmers in the 2017-2018 cotton marketing season.

Executive Director for Cotton Malawi, Cosmas Luwanda told the press that the marketing season will open on April 27, 2018 and will run for 90 Calendar days.

"The farm gate price for the seed cotton for 2018 marketing season is K375:00 per kg.

The price has been arrived at through a rigorous consultative process with industry stakeholders taking into account the cost of production and prevailing international market prices" said Luwanda.

He said that in order to properly regulate the function of the market and protect the interest of seed cotton growers and buyers alike, the ministry has put regulations that shall enforce to guide cotton marketing.

"Pursuant to the provisions of the cotton act 2013(45), buying of the seed cotton will only be done at the centres designated by the cotton council of Malawi. Any other cotton buyer who contravenes the order will commits an offence under the cotton act, 2013," Luwanda stated.

President of Cotton Farmers Association, Godfrey Ching'oma said that only the licensed people would be allowed to buy cotton seed.

"People found buying seed cotton at non-designated place and/or without a buying license, commits an offence under the cotton act, 2013. Over 220 marketing posts have been designated across the country at which seed cotton is going to be traded," he explained

Ching'oma added that introducing the minimum farm gate prices for the selected crops 2017/18 season as follows; Maize 150kwacha/kg, polished rice at 530 kwacha/kg , unshelled groundnuts at 290 kwacha/kg ,Soya beans at 280 kwacha/kg is one way of making the farmers to benefit from their farm produce.

Ching'oma urged farmers not to sale their crops to vendors but to certified market where they would have more profit.

 

Source: Malawi News Agency

Maputo — Mozambican Foreign Minister Jose Pacheco declared on Monday that Mozambique remains interested in selling electricity to Malawi.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting in Maputo with his Malawian counterpart, Emmanuel Fabiano, Pacheco said that, in an initial phase, Mozambique could sell 10 megawatts of power to Malawi from Mandimba, in the northern province of Niassa.
But to make this interconnection possible, Malawi will need to provide investment of 300,000 US dollars.
Pacheco added that coal fired power stations in Tete province could provide power to both Malawi and Zambia. However, no such power stations yet exist, although the coal mining companies have promised to build them.
“By 2020, our capacity to generate electricity will increase”, said Pacheco. With greater availability of Mozambican power, he promised further agreements between Mozambique and other countries of the region.
A further challenge, Pacheco added, was the Sena railway line. Currently this runs from the Moatize coal basin in Tete to the port of Beira. But there is a spur into southern Malawi that has not been used for many years, and Pacheco hoped that Malawi can benefit from re-opening this stretch of track.
“We shared information about projects to build other rail and port facilities, such as the Port of Macuse”, said Pacheco. This is the plan for a new deep-water port at Macuse, on the coast of Zambezia province. Macuse could be another option for Malawian trade: the new port will be considerably nearer to southern Malawi than either Beira or Nacala.
Fabiano said he had come to Maputo “specifically to discuss matters concerning energy. We are neighbours and, from time to time, we discuss matters of common interest”. One of those interests was to ensure that the countries of southern Africa can share electricity.
Malawi is desperately short of electricity, and even those parts of the country fortunate enough to be connected to the national grid often face lengthy power cuts. The vast bulk of Malawi's electricity supply comes from hydro-power stations on the Shire river, which can generate less than 300 megawatts.
Fabiano also visited the combined cycle gas-fired power station in Maputo, which is the fourth gas-fired power station built for the Mozambican electricity company EDM. The company plans to build two more in Temane, in the southern province of Inhambane, where the gas is extracted and process by the South African petro-chemical giant Sasol.
The EDM director of generation, Narendra Gulab, said that, although there is currently no direct connection between the Mozambican and Malawian electricity grids, EDM has a project for interconnection that is “well advanced”.
“In the near future, we shall have great potential in energy”, said Gulab. Mozambique will be a major source for generating electricity, “and we shall also be able to supply Malawi”.