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  • ‘Farmers, processors can make more money in cashew value chain’

    Apr 8th, 2018

    From 1965 to 1990, cashew production was relatively static at 25,000 tonnes with estimated land area of 50,000 hectares in 1990. Despite the initial problems, cashew cultivation has spread to 27 states of the country, and in the past 12 years, production increased almost thirty-fold from 30,000mt to 836,500 tonnes from estimated land area of 366,000 hectares in 2012. Since the liberalisation of the commodity market in 1986, many companies have ventured into cashew processing.Nigeria has recognised the potential economic value of cashew and has made a concerted effort to improve the production of the crop. Can you take us through some of the efforts that were made in the past to promote the value chain? The Federal Government initiated a Cashew Development Programme under the Tree Crop Development Programme. The programme was initiated in 2001 to rehabilitate and resuscitate moribund plantations, train extension staff and farmers, provide and distribute inputs such as seedlings, agro-chemicals, etc.Other objectives of the programme were to promote quality control at primary (farm) level and the strengthening of management information system in the cashew sector. Despite this, however, products of cashew tree (kernel and apple) are grossly underutilised for income generation. There is still a lot of wastages of the fresh apples on farms since a negligible portion is consumed by harvesters.Also, Nigeria produces a limited variety of cashew, consisting mainly of the yellow and red varieties.However, high yielding cashew varieties with low gestation period and bigger nuts have been introduced. The Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) that has the mandate to research into cashew development has developed an improved variety of cashew called Brazillian Jumbo, with nuts maturing within one year in contrast to the local wild varieties which mature after five years.Currently in Nigeria, the major factors limiting cashew nut production are old age of most trees, deforestation, low yielding varieties, dominance of small holdings, dependence of most farmers on wild varieties, land acquisition problems, high cost of inputs, climatic conditions, disease, pest and fire outbreaks, high post-harvest losses, infrastructural constraints, as well as quality and market price of the product. What are the factors affecting cashew production in the country? Well, the major constraints are marketing and processing of cashew fruits. Producers have called on the government to arrest increasing transportation of the nuts into neighbouring countries, such as Togo, Benin and Cameroon, from where they are exported to Europe and the United States (U.S). Also, prices of cashew nuts in international market impact significantly on its productivity. Good market prices are strong incentives for farmers, but when prices are low, farmers are weary of investing in any input since they cannot judge the return they might expect to receive for the crop at the end of the growing season. The activity of middlemen, which reduces the amount that gets to farmers, also reduces profitability of farmers. In the Nigerian market, uncertainty is a very serious problem which can seriously limit cashew production and marketing as cashew farmers are left at the mercy of the middlemen,whose activities usually make prices to be low and damaging. So how can Nigeria promote the cashew value chain? One of the major ways of promoting development of the nation’s cashew output is through value addition.Cashew nuts are basic raw materials in the production of cashew nut butter.Further value addition to the kernels is possible by roasting and salting or sugar coating the nuts. It is estimated that 60per cent of cashew kernels are consumed in the form of snacks while the remaining 40per cent is used in the confectionery industry. Presently, only 6per cent cashew apples produced is exported as producers have only market for the nuts. The problem is heightened as the use of whole fruit is commercially difficult as the apple ripens prior to the nut. The quality of the nut detached from the green fruit is unacceptable for processing as cashew apples must be produced within 2 to 3 hours of picking as they undergo rapid deterioration when kept for a long time. This perishable nature also negatively influences development of processing options for cashew fruits. How would you describe the significance of cashew as a raw material? What is the RMRDC doing to increase production? The RMRDC has initiated maintained and sustained a cashew development programme aimed at developing the value chain locally. Some of the industrial potentials of cashew, which are being exploited by the council are Cashew Nut Shell Liquid, juice and roasted cashew nut. Cashew nut shell contains inedible Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL), which consists of 15per cent of the gross weight while the nut contains Cashew Nut Kernel Oil (CNKO), which is sweet edible oil.The pressed kernel cake from CNKO extraction process is suitable for use in human and animal feeds. The CNSL contains high proportions of phenolic compounds, which are used in industries as raw materials for making vehicle brake lining compounds, water proofing agents, preservatives, manufacture of paints and plastics; type-writer rollers, oil and acid-proof cements and for making industrial floor tiles, etc. In order to promote the sustainable supply of cashew to the processing plants, the council distributed 7,000 seedlings of improved cashew variety (Jumbo Cashew) to farms across the country during the 2015-2016 planting seasons. The project was handled by Abod Success Investment Limited.Some of the beneficiaries include: Alheri Agricultural Vine International Limited, Kaduna; Plant A Tree Today Initiative (PATTIN), Cadastral Zone, Apo, Abuja; African Foundation for Agricultural Development, Gudu District, Abuja; Christian Care for Widows, Widowers, the Aged and Orphans, Gwarinpa, Abuja; Danejo Farms Nigeria Limited, Babban Tunga, Niger State; National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Ilorin, Kwara State and Kogi State University, Anyigba, Kogi State and a host of others. The council, in collaboration with the Kogi State University, Anyigba, established a 1 tonne/day cashew nut processing plant for investment purposes. The cashew processing plant was fabricated and installed by a private consultant, Abod Success Investment Limited. The project was commissioned on October 14, 2010 and has since been producing cashew nuts on commercial basis.Likewise, the council collaborated with the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) to upgrade the cashew nut processing facility in the university. One tonne/day cashew nut processing plant was fabricated and installed by the council’s cashew consultant, Abod Success Investment Limited at the university. After a successful test-run and training of workers, the facility was commissioned on Wednesday, August 27, 2014. The plant has since commenced commercial production of cashew nuts. The council has also collaborated with Isowopo Cashew Farmers and Sellers Association for the establishment of one tonne/day cashew nut processing plant at Ikakumo, Ondo State.Furthermore, the council commissioned Abod Success Investment Limited to design, fabricate and install one tonne/day cashew nut processing plant at WEHSAC Farms Limited, Oke-Ogun, Oyo State. The council also commissioned Abod success Investment Limited to design, fabricate and install CNSL extraction plants at the Kogi State University, Anyigba and the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta. The extraction plants have been installed. To promote further value addition, Abod success was commissioned to design and fabricate cashew juice processing plants for the council.The plants would be deployed to the universities in Anyigba and Abeokuta for investment purposes. The council is collaborating with the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), which is an international association of African and international businessmen with interest in promoting globally competitive African cashew industry. Presently, nearly 130 member countries work under the ACA banner and represent all aspects of cashew value chain, including producers, processors, traders and international buyers. In2017, we initiated collaboration with the Vietnam Institute of Agricultural Sciences for Southern Vietnam for transfer of technology on the grafting of cashew trees.The technology had been perfected and widely deployed in Vietnam.This has made Vietnam one of the competitive cashew producers globally.The major advantage of the technology is the possibility of grafting old trees for increased production and productivity without any need to cut them down. This initiative, if perfected locally as planned, will obviate the need to cut down old cashew trees locally, while at the same time increasing their productivity.As the old age of cashew is a major limiting factor influencing yield locally, the deployment of this technology will increase cashew production by more than 25per cent on annual basis.