With appropriate incentives, cashew could increase annual export earnings from N25billion to N200 billion.
The National Cashew Association of Nigeria, NCAN, says it is targeting the support of the U.S. Agency for NCAN National President, Tola Faseru,, to develop the country’s cashew value chain and improve crop yields.
The NCAN National President, Tola Faseru, said the association was already in advanced discussions with the USAID|Nigerian Expanded Trade and Transport, NEXTT, to provide evidence-based advocacy to facilitate access to technical assistance to its members to strengthen their capacities.
Mr. Faseru said the discussions would help improve the fortunes of its members, as experts have identified low production yields, low value added, poor access to finance and high energy costs as some of the challenges the Nigerian cashew industry was facing.
These factors, he said, have also been identified as the major constraints stopping the sector from fulfilling its potentials as one of the main sources of non-oil revenue for the country.
Nigeria is currently ranked as the sixth largest cashew producer in the world, though studies show that it has the capacity to quickly move to the second position with the required support of key stakeholders.
NCAN says it was looking forward to developing the cashew value chain, improve crop yields through new plantings, introduction of better farm management practices, efficient aggregation, storage and logistics as well as attract new investments into processing both the raw cashew nut and the cashew fruits.
The Association said these interventions would better harness the potentials of the sector for national development.
“Less than 20 percent of what is produced is being processed,” the NCAN President said. “This means that we are exporting our jobs to other countries. No wonder there is so much unemployment and insecurity in Nigeria.
“The bane of the cashew sector, over the years, has been weak access to finance which has made the sector to grow inefficiently with resultant export of 80 percent of annual crop as RCN.”
Mr. Faseru said with appropriate incentives, the sector could easily increase annual export earnings fourfold from N25billion to N200 billion.
He said capital is one problem farmers have, pointing out that every other cash crops in Nigeria being exported enjoy assistance from government, except cashew.
“Cashew, which is providing significant employment opportunities in the country has not been given as much attention as other cash crops,” the spokesperson of the Association, Sotonye Anga, lamented recently.
The NEXTT is a project of the USAID Nigeria designed to improve the capacities of the Nigerian businesses.
It is currently partnering with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, NEPC to design sector strategies that allow Nigerian branded cashew trade more competitively in global markets.