Boosting Nigeria’s cashew nut industry

Adeze Ojukwu

The nation’s agricultural sector, seems to be flourishing remarkably, with the recent boom in export of cashew nuts.

Indeed the agro-allied industry, has been recognized as key to driving Nigeria’s economic diversification plan.

Clearly, the cashew business is a lucrative one with an estimated return range of between 30 to 40 per cent within 3-5 years of cultivation which is no small margin of profit.

Nigeria currently is the 6th largest producer of cashew globally and has proven to those in the value chain to be a profitable enterprise.

The breakdown of cashew nut export shows that cashew nuts, in shell that was exported in the review year was N38. 36 billion, while that which is shelled was valued at N7 billion, last July.

In the second quarter of 2020, exported nuts valued at N45. 88 billion, with the highest quantity recorded.

This statistics shows that it is one of the leading cashew nut exporting countries worldwide in 2020, based on export value.

In 2020, Senegal was the leading exporter of in shell cashews worldwide, with exports amounting to a value of over 38.59 million U.S. dollars.

The data reached an all-time high of 575,345.300 NGN/Tonne in 2016 and a record low of 33,180.000 NGN/Tonne in 1998. Cashew nut data was reported at 550,000.000 NGN/Tonne in 2017.

The value has remained in active status, according to according to Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and CEIC, an international data organization.

It is interesting to note that the grey coloured nuts, grows in almost all states of Nigeria.

However, most production is concentrated in the Eastern, Western, and Middle Belt areas with Anambra, Oyo, Enugu, Osun, and Kogi having the largest production .
Ogbomoso, is reportedly, the best soil and climate for cashew in Nigeria and also produces the best quality cashew nuts.

According to experts, nuts harvested from Ogbomoso, have shown, far better commercial value than those from other areas in the country.

Meanwhile,Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Nigeria’s leading engineering and construction company, has diversified its investment portfolio into the agricultural processing sector of the nation’s economy.

This is no undoubtedly a welcome development, that will boost the nation’s cashew export productivity and rating.
A statement by Barr Moses Duku, Media Relations Officer of JBN, said the company is set to commission its first ever cashew processing plant in Epe, Lagos State.

‘The plant would be responsible to the environment as it is committed to implementing a no-waste operational practice.’

The cashew project’s commodity and marketing Manager, Oyindamola Asaaju, gave more details at the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) conference, held, recently, at the NAF Conference Centre, Abuja.

“Clear national occupational standard and demand-driven international product quality would define and drive the company’s operations and productivity in the cashew processing industry in Nigeria, where only 5percent of Nigeria’s production is currently locally processed,” he added.

According to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Nigeria has untapped potential of $3.4 million USD from exports of cashew kernels. The top five markets with the highest potential for exports are EU, Japan, Canada, and UAE.
Local consumption of these kidney-shaped seeds is equally high, therefore limiting their exports.

The cashew plant is a tropical tree, believed to be native to Brazil, but now cultivated in various warm climates across the world.

“The species is native to Northeastern Brazil and Southeastern Venezuela, and later was distributed around the world in the 1500s by Portuguese explorers, according to Wikipedia.

Portuguese colonists in Brazil began exporting cashew nuts as early as the 1550s.

The Portuguese took it to Goa, India between 1560 and 1565. From there, it spread throughout Southeast Asia, and eventually Africa.

In 2019, four million tonnes of cashew nuts were produced globally, with Ivory Coast and India as the leading producers.

As well as the nut and fruit, the plant has several other uses. The shell of the cashew seed yields derivatives that can be used in many applications including lubricants, waterproofing, paints, and, starting in World War II, arms production.

The cashew apple is a light reddish to yellow fruit, whose pulp and juice can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or fermented and distilled into liquor.”

Cashew fruits contain allergies, that are triggered by the proteins found in tree nuts, and cooking often does not remove or change these proteins.”

While “raw” cashews are widely sold, truly raw cashews are not safe to eat, as they contain a substance known as urushiol, found in poison ivy, the reported.
“Cashew kernels are cooked in processing to remove this toxic liquid, and this resulting product is sold as “raw”.

“Although commonly referred to as tree nuts, and nutritionally comparable to them, cashews are really seeds. They’re rich in nutrients and beneficial plant compounds and make for an easy addition to many dishes.”

“Like most nuts, cashews may also help improve your overall health. They’ve been linked to benefits like weight loss, improved blood sugar control, and a healthier heart.”

•Ojukwu a Hubert Humphrey Fellow, is a journalist and advocate of Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs). Kindly send feedback to [email protected]

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