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  • Agriculture, Manufacturing as Panacea for a Faltering Economy

    Mar 3rd, 2015

    The Cashew Potential

    As the nation searches for more economic options to save it from the oblivion scenario presented by the fall in crude oil prices and free fall of the value of the naira, the National Cashew Association of Nigeria's (NCAN) recent statement that the country will generate a turnover of about ‎N1 trillion in the next 10 years from the cashew value chain is good news. The association stressed that Nigeria must promote cashew business seriously and unlock financing for the sector for it to thrive.

    The association, through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Sotonye Anga, stated that the cashew industry requires financing to the tune of N50 billion to boost its production, processing and marketing, maintaining that there was a need for value addition in the nation's cashew industry to create more jobs for its unemployed young people, diversify the economy and earn foreign exchange. Anga stressed that exporting raw cashew, also exports job opportunities, stressing the need for the nation to reverse this trend.

    "Let us not forget that Africa is the centre of the cashew world, producing over 40 per cent of 2.6 million tons of the world's cashew nuts with Nigeria standing as one of the largest cashew producers in the continent alongside Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and recently Mali," he said.

    ‎"The time to add value to our cashew and thereby create more jobs for our unemployed young people, reduce unemployment, diversify our economy, reduce the pressure on our Naira, stimulate economic growth‎ and get a bigger share of the cashew dollar is now," he added.

    According to him, $1.8 billion per annum in Naira is an equivalent of N351 billion from just cashew alone, noting that it is as a matter of urgency for Nigeria to have a paradigm shift to look away from petrol dollar to cashew dollar.

    He also stressed that developing and investing in Nigeria's cashew industry offers a straight route from poverty to financial freedom and prosperity for thousands of families.

    "Today, cashew is a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria and thus listed as a transformational crop in the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the federal government of Nigeria," he said.

    He pointed out that the nation's annual production of raw cashew nuts now stands at 144,000 tons, stressing that in the last 9 years, cashew prices in Nigeria had increased by 266.7 per cent.

    He also advised that Nigeria needs to consolidate its place in the cashew world by increasing its cashew production and processing, considering the growth in demand for cashew globally and the rising ‎consumer appetite for the crop.

    "As we allocate more land for cashew cultivation, our major focus should be to increase our national average in terms of yield per hectare which is around 400kg to 600 kg per hectare to at least 1,000 to 1500 kg per hectare.

    He said as a result of this, there was the need to establish a national cashew seed programme, improve farm level productivity by planting improved disease-resistant high-yielding cashew seedlings, rejuvenate old cashew farms and organise capacity building programmes for cashew farmers.

    Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the event from the Institute of Export of Nigeria, Mr. Yusuff Nurudeen Abubakar, said cashew is an emerging commodity crop whose cultivation cuts across the seven agro-ecologies in Nigeria, saying that the numerical strength of the farmers is astronomically increasing, while the crop's hectarage is correspondingly on the increase.

    He stated that with the recent downturn in the oil and gas sector of the economy, Nigeria must turn to non-oil commodities to achieve economic growth.

    He noted that according to the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the USAID collaboration with the council and African Cashew Alliance (ACA) to process only 50 per cent of the nation's cashew would create over 8,500 new jobs and inject a positive multiplier effect of over N2 billion into the country's 11 million rural economy.

    He said the way forward for the cashew industry is for the federal government to set up low funding cashew research project‎s, establish cashew seed and processing centres, encourage youth in cashew-based agriculture, establish consolidated cashew trust fund and provide a constitution of cashew development commission. "For cashew to achieve economic importance, vigorous campaigns also should be commenced to attract cashew growers."