By Oludele Taiwo
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, has lamented that out of the 250,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria annually, only about 10 per cent is processed locally.
He dropped the hint while speaking at the Nigeria Cashew Day and Cashew Season flag-off ceremony in Benin-City, Edo State with the theme: “Industrialising the Nigeria Cashew Sector through Inclusive Policies”.
Abubakar, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, said cashew nuts exported from Nigeria at the end of 2022 generated over $250million.
He urged farmers to continue to work in harmony, stressing that this is the only way they can make a 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 has been increasing in its importance as an export-oriented cash crop since in the 1990s. It has become an important source of non-oil export earnings, which is estimated to represent over 10 per cent Gross Domestic Products (GDP), based on export data of 2022.
He noted that in realisation of the importance of cashew, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, had 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 250,000MT of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria, only about 10 per cent is processed locally 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 derivative like cashew juice, jam, ice cream among others. This means exporting Nigerian jobs to other countries”, he said.
On his part, the National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Ojo Ajanaku, said that cashew growth in Nigeria had been steadily expanding over the last three years by 11 per cent. He observed that this implies that the sector had the potential to drive national revenue generation, job creation and economic diversification, stressing that more than three million people in Nigeria, mostly women, work in the cashew sector.
He stated that at present, Nigeria is said to be the 5th largest producer of cashew in the world with Ivory Coast taking the lead. “NCAN’s long term goal is to transform Nigeria from a low-priced commodity producer to a reliable supplier and exporter of high-quality cashew products. It is worthy to mention that cashew can be produced in all states in Nigeria.
However, only 22 states, including the Federal Capital Territory are currently producing cashew in commercial volume. “More than three million people in Nigeria, mostly women, work in the cashew sector, which also provides the primary source of household income for more than one million rural households in Nigeria”, he added.
The President, African Cashew Alliance (ACA), said that the conference of African Cashew Alliance last year brought about awakening of the need for value addition and also heightening the interest of the government. He said that in the conference, stakeholders in the cashew industry were given assurance and commitments that a lot of interest had been created within the private sector.
“I believe within the next five years, the story will change and you will see us doing more processing. We have been given the mandate that within the next five years, to process at least 50 per cent of our production and to double our production, and everybody is running with that mantra.”
He added that within the next few years, there will be a lot of cashew processing facilities coming up.
Cashew producing states in Nigeria include Kaduna, Abia, Kogi, Enugu, Kwara, Oyo, Niger, Imo, and Abuja FCT among others.