Efforts are being made by stakeholders to increase Nigeria’s production in the next five years, DANIEL ESSIET reports.
Global raw cashew nuts production is expected to remain between 3.8 million and 4.3 million tonnes this year, according to African Cashew Alliance (ACA).
Analysts are thus advocating that Africa’s cashew industry be increased.
There is therefore the need for a road map, which targets replantation of high-yielding trees, adoption of proper pre-harvest management of the crop, and expansion of plantations.
Though among the key producers in Africa, Nigeria’s domestic production of raw cashew nuts is below 400,000 metric tonnes (MT). Experts believe that Nigeria has the competitive advantage to increase its production due to its good climate, if there is government’s assistance.
TheUnited States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s West Africa PRO-Cashew and ACA agree. It is working on increasing Nigeria’s cashew production to 500,000 metric tonnes yearly. All things being equal, this could yield at least $4 billion in foreign exchange (forex) earnings.
Speaking during the maiden policy dialogue with cashew stakeholders in Lagos, Chief of Party, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) Jean Francois Gay noted that Nigeria is the second largest cashew producer and exporter in West Africa. He, therefore, sought for support for the industry.
He maintained that the cashew value chain is affected by several constraints, especially processing.
Regional Policy Expert, Cashew Value Chain, Procashew, Shakti Pal, observed that the sector needed restructuring to ensure more cash for farmers and traders.
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He reiterated that Nigeria could explore more opportunities in the global market to increase cashew export. To enter this market, he said, measures must be taken to ensure the quality of the product.
Head Cashew Desk, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Odionye Christopher Adava, said the Federal Government had shown interest in supporting the growth and development of the cashew sector through collaborations with partners, distribution of improved seeds, distribution of agro-chemicals and jute bags to smallholder cashew farmers, establishment of modular processing facilities, and inclusion of cashew as a priority commodity for import substitution.
He said the reason for the dialogue was to get stakeholders’ interests and propose recommendations for the growth.
According to him, the Federal Government is building the capacity of smallholder cashew farmers by distributing quality seeds to farmers.
Chairman, National Cashew Steering Committee Roland Oroh, said the Development Gateway (DG) is partnering the CNFA under the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew project to develop the cashew-in data collection and analysis platform.
The project, according to him, has identified gaps in Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Nigeria.
The project would address these gaps through a multi-country cashew data management system (Cashew-IN) that would facilitate access to and use of data to improve decision-making for policymakers, farmers, and the private sector. The ultimate goal is to build a better market for cashew nuts.
Oroh said there was no organised way of aggregating data in the sector, though these were available.
He observed that institutions such as the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have cashew data, which should be aggregated, and presented to give value to the various users, adding that there were plans to do so.