Tanzania open to new buyers of cashew

Saturday February 23 2019

Raw cashewnuts

Tanzania set out to find a bulk buyer for the more than 200,000 tonnes of cashewnuts it had collected from the farmers. PHOTO | NMG 

BOB KARASHANI
By BOB KARASHANI
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Tanzania is still awaiting the payment of Tsh418 billion ($180.2 million) for 100,000 tonnes of cashewnuts it sold to a Kenya-based company in a deal signed in Arusha on January 30.

This past week, Industry and Trade Minister Joseph Kakunda said that the consignment will not be released to the Thika-based firm until it has completed all legal, commercial and financial procedures, including securing insurance cover.

"The cover must be attached, with related affidavits, which is among the conditions that Indo Power was given by the banks that are supposed to provide the loan guarantees accompanying the deal. Once Indo Power completes these procedures and pays the money to the central bank, we will hand over the cargo," Mr Kakunda said.

Efforts to get Indo Power officials to comment on the progress of the deal were fruitless, as they did not answer calls.

Questions emerged over its authenticity since the company has no record of having transacted any such deals. Its chief executive, Brian Mutembei, signed the deal in Arusha.

The Tanzanian government has received a lot of criticism over the multimillion-dollar deal.

Opposition leader Zitto Kabwe tweeted that the government may have been taken for a ride.

Mr Kabwe told The EastAfrican that three commercial banks have declined to issue letters of credit to Indo Power.

When asked whether the government had done its due diligence on the firms interested in buying its cashewnut stockpile, Mr Kakunda said they were not being "choosy" in the search for customers.

"We are inviting any interested parties to present their purchase requirements and price offers to the ministry. By anyone we mean private companies or individuals," Mr Kakunda said.

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