Cashew Production: ‘Nigeria Now Behind- NEPC
AN agricultural expert, Mrs. Amina Abdulmalik, has disclosed that Nigeria was at a time rated very high in the international market in terms of production capacity of cashew only to be overtaken by countries like Ghana, Cote D’ Ivoire and Guinea Bissau.
Abdulmalik who is the Trade Promotion Advisor, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), in Lokoja Office, Kogi, state made this known during a workshop put together to provide technical support to enhance the capacity of cashew farmers and processors in Kogi state.
According to her, the technical support enjoyed by farmers and processors through the interventions of government and Development partners in terms of training on best practices and standardisation is largely responsible for the upsurge in their production capacity.
She further stated further that: “The capacity has enhanced their farmers to cultivate high yield varieties with short gestation period. While most Nigerian cashew farmers still count on aging cashew from the wild, most other countries grow the jumbo size Brazilian type suitable for the international market.
“In order to reverse the trend and increase significantly the annual production output of the country, there is the need to support the farmers and processors with the requisite technical knowledge through an intensive capacity building workshop.
“Virtually all the local government areas in Kogi State have cashew farmers with little or none prerequisite knowledge of cashew value addition. The farmers are faced with challenges of waste, poor packaging, finance, security, infrastructure and lack of basic knowledge of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
She stressed that it was against this background, that the workshop on technical support to farmers and processors of cashew in Kogi has become very necessary and of utmost priority.
“The NEPC is passionate and committed to the development of non-oil export.
“This is very evident in the Council’s Zero oil Plan where the Council has also supported the development of export value chain in cashew processing in recent time and the impact of several interventions have not been felt in terms of export of the commodity.
“Therefore, the need to increase the output of the country’s annual production capacity and also to encourage value addition through establishment of processing centres in partnership with the OPS is enough justification for this workshop.
She said that the country has a cultivated area 325,000 hectares with annual production of about 320,000 m/t according to FAO 2015 statistics.
She mentioned that production areas include: Enugu, Abia, Imo, Anambra and Ebonyi in the South East.
“The South-West has Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, and Ogun states as predominantly cashew producing areas. In the North Central almost every state fall within the cashew belt.
“However, states like Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Benue, Niger and the FCT add significantly to the over- all output of the country.