The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubarkar, has said thatNigeria earned $250 million from cashew nuts exports last year but regretted that out of the 250,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria yearly, only about 10 per cent is being processed locally.
Dr. Abubakar, who was represented by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, spoke yesterday, January 24, in Benin, Edo State capital, during the launch of Nigeria Cashew Day and kick-off of cashew season, with the theme:”Industrialising the Nigeria Cashew Sector Through Inclusive Policies.”
He said: “At the end of 2022, cashew nuts exported from Nigeria generated over $250 million, which accounted for about 10 per cent of the country’s agricultural export.
“Cashew export is expected to fetch Nigerian farmers about $500 million by 2023.
“I implore you to continue working together in harmony, as this is the only way you can make positive impact towards sustainable development of the cashew industry and ensuring its contribution in achieving the overall goal of this administration’s economic diversification agenda.
“In Nigeria, cashew is increasing in its importance as an export oriented cash crop since the 1990’s. It has become an important source of non-oil export earnings.
“Cashew has become a commercial crop in Nigeria. It is cultivated in 27 states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“In realisation of the importance of cashew, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, listed cashew as a priority crop to be promoted, under the Import Substitution Strategy of the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Out of the 250,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria, only about 10 per cent is processed, while Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) are sold to cashew buying agents for export and cashew apple eaten raw, and the rest wasted, because of inadequate facilities to process other cashew derivatives, for example cashew juice, jam, and ice cream, among others. This means exporting Nigerian jobs to other countries.”
The Edo Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Security, Stephen Idehenre, said that the state government’s collaboration with the private sector to grow the oil palm and cassava value chains, were testimonies of how well-thought policies could foster effective economic growth and development.
He said that his administration’s championing the biggest single investment in oil palm production in Africa, through the Edo State Oil Palm Programme, was a step in the right direction.
“A total of 62,500 hectares of land have been allocated to nine investors in this respect. The theme of this event is apt, as the development of inclusive policies for the sector will no doubt grow cashew value chain, as demonstrated by Edo State government in its oil palm intensification initiative.
“Edo State is making efforts to ease farmers’ access to improved seedlings for increased productivity. 40,000 cacao seedlings would be distributed in 2023 to cocoa farmers in the state. Also, 150,000 cashew seedlings would be distributed under our collaboration with PRO- Cashew, a project funded by USDA, and implemented by cultivating new frontiers in agriculture.”
The National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Prince Joseph Ajanaku, earlier, said that Nigeria is the fifth largest producer of cashew in the world, with Côte d’Ivoire taking the lead.