Minister of Agriculture, Sabo Nanono, yesterday, disclosed that the cashew sub-sector generated over $813million between 2015 and 2017.
Nanono in his keynote at the Cashew stakeholders and Export meeting, organised by the Association of Cashew Farmers, Aggregators, and Processors of Nigeria (ACFAP), pointed out that Cashew being the second non-oil export commodity has been contributing significantly to the nation’s foreign exchange earnings, but unfortunately the potential are not fully taped.
Nanono, who was represented by Director Agriculture Extension in the Ministry, Mrs Karima Babangida, noted that “The cashew sub-sector is one of the commodities Nigeria has comparative advantage in its production, processing and marketing.
Unfortunately, this advantage has not been fully harnessed, and therefore, I’m particularly delighted with this event for the opportunity to address the constraints against contributions to Nigeria’s foreign earnings through cashew value-chain developments and exportation.
He recalled that although cashew development started in Nigeria in early 1950’s, the current national production is estimated at 350,000mt with an average yield of about 600kg per hectare compared to the global average of 1,230kg per hectare.
The minister listed some of the constraint limiting the growth of the subsector to include unselected and poor quality planting materials, aging plantation, poorly organised and coordinated stakeholders, and lack of access to cashew-specific funding. Others are dearth of inputs, low plantation productivity, low processing capacity, of existing plants and equipment, few incentives to investors in processing, absence appropriate credit, and lack of reliable statistics and data.
He said the overall goal of the cashew value chain is to promote policies and capacity and technology for exploiting the high potential of the cashew value chain. This would help increase the yield to over 500,000mt by Year 2023, with yield enhancement from 613mt to 800 per hectare.
He added that government’s primary objectives are to improve cashew productivity expand national heterogeneous, rehabilitate the old existing plantations, improve and increasing pro processing and storage capacity and develop effective marketing information system in the sector.
Meanwhile the National President of ACFAP, Augustine Edime, in his opening address, decried that Ivory Coast, a country with a population of about 25.2 million people and a land mass of 322,463 km2 is leading the way in cashew production in Africa, with yearly export of about 725,000Mt/Annum.
On the other hand, Nigeria with a population of about 200.96 million people and land mass of 923,763 km² exports about 260,000Mt, making it the fourth largest exporter of cashew among all the cashew producing nations.
He therefore stressed the need to look into the future with a sense of urgency and patriotism, and urged Nigeria to brace up, wake up and understand that it needs to start earning significantly from the cashew industry through export and not subject farmers to the dictates of other countries.