The President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria, NCAN, Pastor Babatola Faseru, has declared that the cashew industry required about N100 billion to fund production and boost foreign earning potential of the industry. Speaking at the just concluded National Cashew Festival Awards in Ilorin, Faseru said Nigeria needed to increase its cashew production, provide high-yielding seedlings to farmers and offer mechanization support. He noted that cashew currently catered for the living expenses of over 300,000 families in Nigeria, with 175,00 tonnes estimated as the annual production figure. Referring to the export performance of the industry, Faseru 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 have been threatening its development. These include shrinking of cultivation areas and unstable outputs. The cashew farmer and agric businessman noted that ageing trees and abnormal weather patterns have decreased yields, and many growers prefer other crops for higher profits, thereby reducing the area of cultivation of the nut. To solve these problems, he said a smart strategy needed to be deployed to enable the industry develop in a sustainable manner in the coming years.
Faseru urged the government to support farmers in planting new cashew trees to replace old ones, make policies that encourage firms investing in deep processing, and strengthen inspection of exports. Modern technologies and equipment, he advocated, should also be used. According to him, the farmers plan 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 further appeal to the government to create the enabling environment to attract investments that would allow the sector to take advantage of the opportunities created by rising global and domestic demand, adding that the government should allocate sufficient funds and put forward necessary schemes to increase production of cashew nut. Considering Nigeria’s stake in global cashew trade, Faseru requested the government to do more in ensuring the country’s leadership in the world market. He therefore 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.
Source:: National Mirror