The cashew industry requires N100 billion to fund production and boost foreign earnings, the National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Pastor Babatola Faseru, has said.
He spoke at the just concluded National Cashew Festival Awards in Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State.
He said Nigeria needs to increase its cashew production, provide high-yielding seedlings to farmers and offer mechanization support.
Right now, he said, cashew caters for the living expenses of over 300,000 families,with 175,00 tonnes estimated as the annual production figure.
Referring to the export performance of the industry, he pointed out that the foreign exchange earned by the country through cashew kernels, cashew nut shells, liquids and allied products last year was put at $253 million.
According to him, Nigeria remains the sixth largest cashew producer after Cote d’Ivoire, India, Vietnam, Tanzania and Guinea Bissau.
He said, however, that the cashew industry has many challenges, which are threatening its development. These include shrinking of cultivation areas and unstable outputs.
He said ageing trees and abnormal weather patterns have decreased yields, and many growers prefer other crops for higher profits, which has reduced the area of cultivation of the nut.
To solve these problems, a smart strategy is to be deployed, to enable the industry develop in a sustainable manner in the coming years.
He urged the government to support farmers in planting cashew trees to replace old ones, adopt policies to encourage firms investing in deep processing, and strengthen inspection of exports. Modern technologies and equipment, he advocated, should also be used.
The industry, according to him, plans to increase the volume of fully processed nuts to satisfy the requirements of customers, add more value, and boost domestic consumption.
He underscored the association’s cashew value chain programme, which targets raising the value of exports, promoting consumption both in the domestic and foreign markets and building brands for the country’s cashew products.
For the programme to be implemented from this year to 2020, to achieve the target of 500,000 tonnes, he urged the government to support the cashew industry to boost its economic growth.
He urged the government to create the enabling environment to attract investments that will allow the sector to take advantage of the opportunities created by rising global and domestic demand.
He also besought the government to allocate sufficient funds and put forward necessary schemes to increase production of cashew nut.
Considering Nigeria’s stake in global cashew trade, he requested the government to do more in ensuring the country’s leadership in the world market.
He called on domestic cashew businesses to ensure quality control and stick to delivery dates, and for producers to use sound cultivation techniques to improve the quality of nuts.