Nigeria is negotiating with Walmart, the biggest supermarket chain in the United States, to roast and ship about seven billion dollars worth of cashew nuts.
Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbe, stated this briefing State House Correspondents on the outcome of Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council meeting.
“They came here and asked us to roast cashew nuts for them; their demand is a 130,000 tonnes of cashew nuts per annum, the total value is seven billion dollars,” Ogbe said.
He said Nigeria, at present, ships raw cashew to Vietnam, where it is roasted and shipped to the US.
According to Ogbe, Nigeria would build six cashew processing factories to be sited in Enugu, Imo, Benue, Kogi, Kwara and Oyo states, which are “the cashew belts for now.”
He said these developments were coming because of Nigeria’s focus on non-oil export.
The agriculture minister said Nigeria would also flag off the export of Nigerian yams to the United Kingdom on Thursday.
He said 72 tones of Nigerian yams in three container loads would be shipped to the UK to flag off the export of yams.
“Two containers went out in February, one arrived in New York on the 16th of this month,” Ogbe stated.
According to Ogbe, Nigeria is the highest producer of yams in the world, but has not been able to earn foreign exchange from it.
He said: “We account for 61% of the total output of yams in the world according to the FAO. The rest is shared between some countries of WA and the West Indies. Ghana is targeting $4billion a year from yam in the next four years. If they can do that, we who are the masters of yam production have no business lagging behind.”
Mr. Ogbe said that plans were being made to prevent the wastage of yams in the country since Nigerians do not consume all the yams produced in the country.
He said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development was working towards providing solar coolers in yam markets and yam producing areas to keep “the temperature at 14 degrees Celsius not frozen but to keep it at that temperature so that it can be good all year round and can last up to three years in the containers.”
The minister said this was part of the government’s plan to diversify the economy and in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth plan.
He said: “if they want yam, we sell yams; if they want pepper, we sell pepper; if they want ginger, we sell ginger. Just like we buy so much from them, it is time for them to buy from us.”
The agricultural minister said a new plough had been designed by the Nigerian Centre for Mechanized Agriculture, Ilorin, Kwara State, North Central Nigeria, for the production of yams in Nigeria.
He said the plough would be attached to tractors to make the yam heap and mechanize yam production in Nigeria.
The minister added that this would encourage more youths to go into agriculture.