The Federal Government through the honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Mahood Abubarkar Monday, in Benin City, Edo said Nigeria earned 250 million US Dollars from export in cashew nuts in 2022.

He, however, lamented that out of the 250,000 mt of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria annually, only about 10% is processed locally.

Abubakar, represented by Dr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, made the statement at the lunch of Nigeria Cashew Day and Cashew Season flag-off ceremony with the theme:” Industrializing the Nigeria Cashew Sector through Inclusive Policies,”

He said, “at the end of 2022, cashew nuts exported from Nigeria generated over $250 million (accounting for about 10% of the country’s agricultural export) and cashew export is expected to fetch Nigerian farmers about $500 million by 2023.

“In Nigeria, cashew is increasing in its importance as an export-oriented cash crop since in the 1990s. It has become an important source of non-oil export earnings (estimated to represent over 10% GDP based on export data for 2022). It has become a commercial crop in Nigeria and is cultivated in 27 States of Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

“In realisation of the importance of Cashew, the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development listed Cashew as a priority crop to be promoted under the Import Substitution Strategy of the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“I therefore, implore you to continue working together in harmony as this is the only way you can make positive impact towards sustainable development of the cashew industry and ensure its contribution in achieving the overall goal of this administration’s economic diversification agenda.

“Out of the 250,000 mt of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria, only about 10% is processed while Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) are sold to cashew buying agents for export and cashew apple eaten raw and the rest wasted because of inadequate facilities to process other cashew derivative e.g. cashew juice, jam, ice cream etc. This means exporting Nigerian jobs to other countries.”

Edo state governor, represented by the Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Security, Hon. Stephen Idehenre, said government hope is to see the event attract more investors, impact knowledge, harmonise our cashew industry for the gain of the state economy.

Obaseki said: “our collaboration with the private sector to grow the oil Palm and cassava value chains are testimonies of how well-thought policies could foster effective economic growth and development. The state is campaigning the biggest single investment in oil Palm production in Africa through Edo State Oil Palm Programme.

“A total of 62,500 hectares have been allocated to nine investors in this respect. The theme of this event is apt as the development of Inclusive Policies for the sector will no doubt grow cashew value chains as demonstrated by the Edo state government in its Oil Palm intensification initiative.

” The state is making an effort to ease farmers access to improved seeing for increased productivity. 40,000 cacao seedlings would be distributed in 2023 to Cocoa farmers in the State. Also , 150,000 cashew seedlings would be distributed under our collaboration with PRO- Cashew , a project funded by USDA, and implemented by cultivating new frontiers in Agriculture,” he said.

In his speech, the National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Prince Ojo Joseph Ajanaku, said, at present Nigeria is said to be the 5th largest producer of cashew in the world with Ivory Coast taking the lead.

Prince Ojo posited that, cashew growth in Nigeria has been steadily expanding over the last 3 years by 11%, which implies that the sector has the potential to drive national revenue generation, job creation and economy.