Nigeria’s cashew trading and export, currently worth N24 billion, still has more room for investors, according to Sotonye Anga, public relations officer, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN).
“The industry which is worth about N1 trillion in terms of assets and volume of activities has over 1 million people who depend on it directly and indirectly, and there is still room for investors,” says Anga.
He explains, “Currently, Nigeria has about 600,000 surviving cashew trees spread across the East West, South and Northern Nigeria, with an average yield of about 200kg to 400kg per hectare but over 80 percent of these cashew trees are over aged – over 60 years old. Though they are still fruiting, this is the reason behind the low productivity of our cashew trees. So, investors are needed to go into planting of cashew trees so as to give boost to cashew productivity.”
He adds, “Cashew has become a national crop. Every part of it is useful in one industry or the other. Cashew nuts when processed are eaten as snack locally and internationally. It is also used as an ingredient by many food companies in developed countries. It is used as a nutty ingredient in ice-creams and chocolates, sweets, gravies, in production of cashew nut flour, etc. Because of its high level of vitamins and minerals, it is also useful in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Anga further said, “Apart from the nuts which are processed and marketed locally and internationally, the fruit can be used in producing juice. But there is no standard cashew juice processing factory in Nigeria. This calls for massive investment as cashew juice is more nutritional than orange juice. Rather than exporting the fruits for industries abroad, the juice can be produced here in Nigeria and exported creating jobs and wealth for investors.”
But the industry like others in Nigeria has its own fair share of challenges. Anga says, “The jute bags which are used in packaging about 70kg raw cashew nuts sells for about N500 per bag. As a result, producers use nylon bags which costs N50 per bag and its quality deteriorates and this reduces its market value internationally.
“So, we want the government to subsidise jute bags like other inputs for farmers. We also expect more support in various other areas from government so as to make our international tradeof cashew more competitive.”
He says the cashew industry has been largely neglected by past governments, and therefore cashew farmers have remained poor, but Adewunmi Adesina, the current minister has promised support to the sub-sector.
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