The African Cashew industry has been described by cashew market experts as the most promising of the global cashew industry. President of the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), Mr. Babatola Faseru, who disclosed this at the ACA’s Global Market Encounter forum to review the Cashew market in 2021, said raw cashew nuts (RCN) production in Africa, is estimated at around 2.1 million tonnes, representing about 57 per cent of global production. ACA estimated Nigeria’s production to be between 210,000 – 250,000 tons this year.
He said despite recording some significant increase in the number of cashew factories to about 50, about three times more than the number a decade ago, local processing of the product remains very low, with only between 10 and 15 per cent of production processed locally.
The ACA attributes this to the fact that most of these processing plants are underutilised due to lack of access to reliable sources of funding, lack of proper policies, and regulation of the industry in most African countries.
While commending cashew farmers in Nigeria for their role in improving the country’s cashew nuts quality this year, he said the quality of cashew nuts in Nigeria and Africa generally has seen a great improvement this year, attributing it to the good work by farmers.
Faseru said farmers have been particularly meticulous in drying their nuts and in following several other good harvest practices that ensure quality.
“The crops came out quite early and good in terms of quality, and that is commendable. The handling of the crops at the farm level is something to cheer about. A good job was done, particularly in the drying of the cashew. You find out that farmers dried nuts to up to about seven per cent this year, improving on quality,” he said. This, according to him, mitigated the effects ports and logistical challenges would have had on the industry, especially on buyers and exporters this year.
“Thank God the farmers did that because this year, we had huge logistics problem in Nigeria; one we have never seen before. In fact, at a point, the Ports Authority suspended export for like two weeks, so we had a lot of cargos waiting and not able to get into the port terminal,” he said.
He believed if farmers maintained this good work, the fortunes of various stakeholders of the cashew industry in Nigeria, especially farmers, would increase.
On cashew processing, Faseru expressed delight in the progress the subsector is making in the country. According to him, there is increasingly a better understanding of the cashew industry now, which is changing the risk perception of people about the industry.