Cashew nuts have emerged as a promising commodity in the global market in recent years. With its high nutritional value and versatility, cashew nuts have become a popular snack and ingredient in various cuisines worldwide. However, what many may not realise is that Africa is the largest producer of cashew nuts.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the global trade of cashew nuts was valued at USD 5.5 billion in 2019, with African countries accounting for 56% of the total production. For those following this market and paying attention to African countries, Mozambique stands out as a promising player.
In 2020, Mozambique produced approximately 160,000 tons of cashew nuts, making it the fourth-largest producer in Africa after Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Guinea-Bissau. The country’s production capacity remains largely untapped, with vast areas of land available for cultivation. This presents a significant opportunity for Mozambique to increase its production and compete with the top players in the global market.
The demand for cashew nuts has been on the rise in recent years, with many countries recognizing its health benefits and incorporating it into their diets. As a result, the top buying nations of cashew nuts have shifted from traditional markets in Europe and North America to emerging economies in Asia and the Middle East. Vietnam and India are currently the top two buyers of cashew nuts, accounting for 40% of the global imports. Other significant buyers include the United States, the Netherlands, and China.
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Mozambique’s strategic location and favorable climatic conditions position it to cater to these emerging markets and expand its customer base. The government has already taken steps to incentivize cashew nut production, offering subsidies to farmers and promoting the establishment of processing facilities. The aim is to increase the value addition to cashew nuts and promote exports of processed products such as cashew nut butter and roasted cashew nuts.
During colonial times, Mozambique was the largest producer of cashew nuts in the world, accounting for up to 90% of the global production. The Portuguese colonial authorities established large cashew plantations and forced farmers to grow cashew trees instead of food crops, resulting in the displacement of local communities and the exploitation of labor. Despite the negative impacts of this period, Mozambique’s historical experience has given it the advantage of having an established infrastructure and expertise in cashew nut cultivation.
Today, the country is working to revive and transform this sector in a more sustainable and inclusive manner. Mozambique’s efforts to promote sustainable farming practices have earned it recognition from international organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The country has implemented programs to promote biodiversity and protect natural habitats while also providing livelihood opportunities for small-scale farmers.
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The global cashew nut market presents a significant opportunity for Mozambique to increase its production and capture a greater share of the market. With its past record and efforts to promote sustainable production, Mozambique is well-positioned to become a major player in the industry once again.
Although, it will require continued investment in research and development, as well as support for small-scale farmers to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry, it may just be the country’s key agri commodity in the near future.