Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The federal government yesterday revealed that Nigeria earned $250 million from export of cashew nuts last year.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Mohammad Mahood Abubakar, disclosed this in Benin City, capital of Edo State.
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, disclosed this at the lunch of Nigeria Cashew Day and Cashew Season flag-off ceremony with the theme: “Industrialising the Nigeria Cashew Sector through Inclusive Policies.”
He, however, lamented that out of the 250,000MT of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria annually, only about 10 per cent was being processed locally.
Abubakar said: “At the end of 2022, cashew nuts exported from Nigeria generated over $250million (accounting for about 10% of the country’s agricultural export) and cashew export is expected to fetch Nigerian farmer about $500million by 2023.
“I therefore, 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 in the 1990’s. It has become an important source of non-oil export earnings (estimated to represent over 10% GDP based on export data of 2022). It has become a commercial crop in Nigeria and is cultivated in 27 States of Nigeria, 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.”
Speaking further, he said: “Out of the 250,000MT 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 derivative e.g cashew juice, jam, ice cream etc. This means exporting Nigerian jobs to other countries.”
In his remarks, Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, who was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Food Security, Mr. Stephen Idehenre, said the state government expected to see the event, “attract more investors, impact knowledge, harmonise our cashew industry for the gain of the state economy.”
He added: “Our collaboration with the private sector to grow the oil Palm and cassava value chains are testimonies of how well thought policies could foster effective economic growth and development.
“The state is championing the biggest single investment in oil palm production in Africa through Edo State Oil Palm Programme.
“A total of 62,500 hectares 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 chains as demonstrated by the Edo state government in its oil palm intensification initiative.
“The state is making an effort to ease farmers access to improved seeing for increased productivity. Forty thousand cocoa 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,” he said.
In his speech, the National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Ojo Joseph Ajanaku, said, at present Nigeria was said to be the fifth largest producer of cashew in the world with Ivory Coast taking the lead.
Ajanaku posited that cashew growth in Nigeria had been steadily expanding over the last three years by 11 per cent, which he said implied that the sector has the potential to drive national revenue generation, job creation and economic diversification.