By Sodiq Lawal
The Federal Government has reiterated commitment to increasing cashew export earnings from $252 million to $500 million in 2023. The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammed Abubakar, stated this during the Nigerian Cashew Day and cashew season commencement with the theme: “Industrialising the Nigeria Cashew Sector through Inclusive Policies”, in Abuja. He said cashew nuts export from Nigeria had generated over $250 million in 2022 and it is expected to fetch Nigerian farmers about $500 million in 2023.
Represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe, the minister said, “In Nigeria, cashew is increasing in importance as an export-oriented cash crop since the 1990s, it has become an important source of non-oil export earnings. It is estimated to represent over 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), based on export data of 2022 and it is becoming a commercial crop in Nigeria and 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. It is being promoted under the Import Substitution Strategy of the present administration, led by President Muhammadu Buhari”.
Abubakar said that the cashew value chain was among the crops being promoted under the Value Chain Programme of the ministry. “The ministry had carried out a number of activities over the years to promote the growth of the value chain in the country including the distribution of improved seeds/seedlings to cashew farmers free of charge. Establishment of cashew cottage industries in some states, distribution of agrochemicals/growth enhancers, carbon-free jute bags and knapsack sprayers. Others were the provision of water pumps to cashew farmers, conducting of capacity building/training for cashew farmers and having sensitisation exercises”, the minister added.
The President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Ojo Ajanaku, said that Nigeria was steadily becoming an export hub and taking over the country’s foreign exchange trading over the last three years by at least 11 per cent. He said: “This implies that the sector has the potential to drive national revenue generation, increase job creation and diversify the economy”. Ajanaku said more than three million people in Nigeria, especially women, had become cashew producers and were driving the sector among their male counterparts. “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, adopt indigenous innovations, and policies that will drive the sector”, he stated further.