LOKOJA- The Kogi State Government has expressed her determination to enroll cashew production into the Anchor Borrowers Scheme in order to boost the production of high quality nuts for export.
The state Commissioner for Agriculture David Apeh disclosed this yesterday when the Executive Council members of National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) and stakeholders in cashew value chain paid him a courtesy call in Lokoja.
According to the Commissioner, Kogi has comparative advantage in the production of cashew nuts as it currently produces 54 per cent of Nigeria’s total cashew production of about 200,000 tons while other states together, produce 46 per cent.
He said that there was need for the state government to intervene and ensure the listing of cashew as one of the crops to benefit from the Anchor Borrowers Scheme which currently supports rice farming.
“With the Anchor Borrowers intervention, issues of fertilizers, even credit facilities will be addressed because under Anchor Borrowers scheme, farmers have money for labour and a lot of other things”, he said.
The Commissioner also pledged to look into timely distribution of fertilizers with other growth enhancing chemicals and nutrients as well as distribution of hybrid seeds to the farmers.
In a remark, Alhaji Ibrahim Siaka (Duche), state chairman of the NCAN said the Association was solidly behind the government to protect policies and programmes in the agricultural sector from being sabotaged.
The chairman implore the state government’s assistance in the provision of improved seedlings, storage (warehousing), logistics, vehicles for Cashew Task Force to monitor and discourage influx of low quality nuts into the state.
He also sought government intervention on issues of double taxation and exploitation by security agencies, “invisible market” sale of wet nuts and mechanisation of the farming processes.
“Our major problem is the quality of our cashew seedlings. We produce a total of about 200,000 tons of cashew in Nigeria and it happens that Kogi produces 54 per cent of the cashew and the remaining 46 per cent is left for other states.
“But we are not the major beneficiaries of cashew. Cote d’Ivoire is a small country but produces 800,000 tons and the quality of their cashew is better than ours.
“Cote d’Ivoire was able to attain the 800,000 tons because they are into mechanised farming but here in Nigeria we don’t have a single machine for farming.
“Cashew has something called Kernel Output Ratio (KOR). Our own kernel is good but our size of cashew is not jumbo. We need the jumbo size because it sells better at the international market”, he said.