Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh has pleaded to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to carry out the speedy clearing of the country’s agricultural produce meant for export.
The minister who assumed the post under the umbrella of the All Progressive Congress (APC) made the declaration in an interview with media personnels at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
In reaction to the current delay in evacuation of cashew nuts worth $300 million for export to Vietnam, he described the situation as an uncomfortable one.
“It has been brought to our notice that cashew nuts worth 300 million dollars destined for export to Vietnam have been stuck in Lagos.
“And as we know, they are usually locked in containers at high temperatures and if these cashew nuts remain there for too long, they get spoilt and that is extremely disturbing.
“It has happened before and this also compromises our desire to become an exporting nation so we are very concerned.
“We have spoken to the Ports Authority Managing Director and she told us that she will make every effort to do something about it.
The minister said the development acted against the federal government’s ambition to make the country an exporting nation.
“We are appealing to them, to see what they can do to speedily evacuate this product,’’ he said.
Still on the disturbing issue of evacuation, Ogbeh revealed that the long term solution to delay in the export of cashew is intended to halt the exportation of raw nuts.
“The solution to delay in the export of cashew is to stop the exportation of raw nuts.
We must begin to add value to the commodity by processing it before eventual export,” he said.
He also revealed that the ministry’s hands are on deck to organise credit for potential processors to enhance them to process the cashew in order to eradicate the business of selling raw nuts.
“We are discussing this with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and with any other agency that will support our initiative,” he said.
On the other hand, , National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) Tola Faseru further issued a note of warning to the press about the possibility of the development having a massive fall if not attended to on time.
Faseru who commended Ogbeh for responding swiftly to the woes of the exporters said the development is due to the ports inefficiency.
” This is a big problem for cashew exporters because we are in the season now and this portends great danger to us.
“We want to thank the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development who himself is a cashew stakeholder for showing concern.
“It shows his genuineness to ensure that agriculture is taken to the next level. We hope that his concerns will bring a change very quickly if not, there will be disaster.
“The road to the port is so bad to the extent that containers are tripping off on the road.
“For almost one month, trucks are still on their way without entering the ports and they are carrying goods that have tendency to perish as well as deterioration in quality, “he said.
Lastly, he urged NPA to put in all required efforts in ensuring that the cashew nuts get to their destination without any hitches that could take time.