LAGOS – Stakeholders in the Nigeria’s cashew industry have stressed the need to increase processing of the commodity in the country and encourage others to tap into the opportunity of adding value to cashew so as to reduce wastage and loss.
In separate interviews with the industry players, they opined that what the industry lost last year to COVID-19 was as a result of low processing capacity in the country.
Ojo Ajanaku, President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), said the association is trying to encourage processing and that that is their major target now.
“As an Association we are trying to encourage processing, and that is our major target, if we are processing our cashew what we lost last year would not have been lost because we would have locally processed most of the cashew and sell the kernel to the international market.
“But because we sell the raw nuts we are not processing. That was the major challenge we had. We process less than 20 percent of what we produce in the country, but what we are trying to do now is to increase processing that will help limit this kind of losses,” he added.
“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 compete in international market as 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 said.
Also, Anga Sotonye, an Agribusiness Strategist who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Universal Quest Limited stated that processing is where the money really is but Nigeria process very little for export, stressing that the biggest opportunity in the cashew industry is processing and the industry is waiting to be tapped.
He said cashew sells like cakes in the United States, India, Spain and many parts of Europe and that apart from helping to maintain a healthy heart and bones, cashew also helps in weight loss, adding that cashew nuts are used in producing chemicals, paints, varnishes, insecticides and fungicides, electrical conductress, and several types of oil.
However, Ajanaku said the farmers are expecting a bumper harvest this year, that the crops are coming out earlier than before in all the major producing states.
“We expect a bumper harvest this year, we are expecting a 15 percent increase this year, the crop is coming out earlier than we expected than before.
Though, he expressed fear that there is little or no harmattan in key producing states which might affect the quality of the crop.
“Our only fear is that the quality must be maintained. If we do not have harmattan our cashew might go bad quickly because of the acidic nature of the crop
Also, Sotonye stated that, “Every year we keep harvesting and we sell; as I speak to you now new crops of cashew are coming up, we have started harvesting nationwide and we have to sell this crop, we are getting excited now to push out the crops as we harvest them, in the next two months we will have sufficient cashew available for 2021,” he said.
In Nigeria cashew can be grown in the entire South West, South South and South East regions, with Enugu, Oyo, Anambra, Osun, and Kogi having the largest production areas.
Nigeria’s cashew is usually harvested between February and June, though farmers stock the crop and export it all year round.