Lagos- As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect every sector of the economy, Cashew farmers have said that they lost nothing less than N28 billion to the lockdown as the prices plummets and as they could not export their produce.
Ojo Ajanaku, National President of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) during a telephone interview with Daily Independent on Monday stated that the Covid-19 Pandemic has definitely affected all businesses, which cashew is not an exception.
“Majority of the cashew we produce here in this country is what we export the raw nut and what we process here is just about 20 to 25 percent which means the cashew is traded internationally and the global lockdown affected the trade and we could no longer have the free flow we use to have with the international market.”
“Some contracts were cancelled because you cannot meet up with the shipping terms, the ship were not moving, the seaports were also lockdown, it really affected our trade value,” he said.
Explaining further, Ajanaku stated that when the season started, cashew was as high as between N370,000 and N380,000 per ton before the pandemic, but it later dropped at a time to as low as N170,000 per ton which gives a difference of N200,000 per ton.
“It affected about 40 percent of our total volume of 350,000 metric tons, that can give you the figure we lost in terms of the drop in price,” he stated.
He also said that the farmers were not also encouraged at a time to harvest because they still have so much goods they are yet to be sold, that many of them are drying their cashew waiting for buyers.
“We believe that if the lockdown is lifted as we hope; we understand that the airspace may be open as from June 7, if it does, the price will definitely appreciate and the volume of cashew will come up because we still have a lot of them with the farmers who have refused to sell, some also who buy at a higher cost in the beginning does not want to sell at loss, they are waiting for the price to appreciate before they sell”, he said.
The NCAN President while answering questions on value addition and processing of cashew, stated that that is the target of the Association, that it is in talk with the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment to help in talking to banks like the Bank of Industry, (BOI), NEXIM bank to invest in processing.
“Let us invest in the potential processors we have here in Nigeria or to resuscitate the ones that are moribund due to financial issues. Those ones that are working, they are not working to full capacity, we need to see how they can be supported because processing is highly capital intensive.”
“Cashew is a seasonal produce and they need to work throughout the year which means they need a lot of capital to stock what they will process throughout the year. So they need support from banks.
“If you are getting money from our commercial banks, there is no way you can complete with international market, the support have to come from NEXIM bank, BOI or Bank of Agriculture those are the banks that can help because the interest rate of those banks are still favourable and you can compete with the international market unlike when you go to our commercial bank, you will not be able to sell at the same price the international market is selling. We are working strongly to see how we can be assisted”, he concluded.