Nigeria earned N14 billion from exporting raw cashew in the last one year, the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), has said.
The association noted that the earnings could be higher if the Federal Government and subnational levels invested in the sector and supported local processing of cashew.
NCAN National President, Prince Ojo Ajanaku, stated this during a chat with reporters ahead of the 16th edition of the Cashew Conference this month.
He said: “We hope to grow to over a million metric tonnes in the next four or five years. Nigeria is presently doing more of export of raw cashew nuts because we don’t process more of it. It is generally a problem in Africa, not only in Nigeria.
“We are not processing, but we are exporting raw cashew nuts, which gives us a lot of income when we talk about foreign earnings. This is second to sesame seed, when you talk about foreign earning generations. We got about 14 billion naira in export. We only had challenges in exporting during the time of Apapa gridlock.”
While lamenting the lack of investment in the sector, Ajanaku noted that about 400 jobs are lost in the country, with every one thousand metric tonnes of cashew exported to India, Vietnam and other Asian countries.
Ajanaku said the sector has the capacity to produce over one million metric tonnes in the next five years if the government and organisations can invest in the sector.
He said: “This is happening in Nigeria for the first time. This is the 16th edition. We want to harmonise the cashew sector and use the conference to influence policies. Though the government is trying its best to support the cashew sector in Nigeria, we need to ask for more, because we have the potential to produce more than what we are producing at the moment.
“Though the statistics we have cannot be said to be accurate, we are presently producing about 350,000 metric tonnes of cashew per annum. However, with the cooperation we have gotten from ministries, departments and agencies, for the seedlings we have distributed for the past years, we are believing that in the coming harvest, we will be meeting over 400, 000 metric tonnes.”
Managing Director of African Cashew Alliance, Ernest Mintah, said the conference will enable producers to sensitise the sector and attract more investment and create job opportunities for Nigerians.
According to Mintah, Africa produces about 57 per cent of the total world production of cashew and process about 10 per cent of it while while the largest volume goes to Vietnam and India.
Mintah said: “Since 2006, we have had the alliance existing in different countries where cashew is produced. Currently, the alliance is in about 14 countries. The conference will open ways for producers to expand in the sector.
“About five years ago, only five per cent of cashew was processed in Africa. Today, we are somewhere around 10 per cent. It is still too little. What it means is that we are exporting a lot of jobs to Asia, particularly India and Vietnam, where the crop is being sent.
“So, we want to be able to sensitize the sector here and attract more investment so that more of the cashew being produced will remain here, processed here and a lot of jobs will be created.
“Today, Africa produces about 57 per cent of the total world production of cashew, yet we process about 10 per cent of it, while the largest volume is going to Vietnam and India.
“If we are exporting the primary product, we are getting something in the region of about one dollar 20 cents per kg. That will cover the payment of the farmer and also cover the transportation, exportation and the rest.
“But if we process, we stand the opportunity of getting over three times the revenue accruing to the government. We have three times that revenue accruing to the country where it is produced. We are also creating jobs. Every thousand metric tonnes of cashew that is processed, you can employ about 250 to 400 jobs, depending on the type of technology that is being used. So, we have been losing about 300 jobs exporting cashew, when we can process here.
“For instance, the Benin Republic has taken the decision to not allow any cashew exported in the country from 2024 onwards, so that they can retain jobs in the country.
“We want to sensitise the government in the different countries, especially Nigeria, to support the sector, increase the processing and create jobs for the youth and we expect other countries to do the same.
“We also want to dispel some negative notions about how difficult it is to invest in Nigeria. In spite of what you hear out there, Nigeria is ready for investment. The crop is here, the production is here.
“We will also visit factories in Nigeria so that people will get to know how the factories are set up and investment opportunities. They won’t just come here to listen to people talk, but will go into the field to see cashew production. It will then convince them to invest.”