• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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Cashew farmers see low output on harsh harmattan

Cashew farmers

…Prices drop 44% on stronger naira

Cashew farmers in the country have projected that output for the 2024 season that started in January will dip marginally owing to the harsh harmattan season experienced in major growing areas.

They said the harsh harmattan season has affected cashew trees in major producing states at the most critical stages of production, resulting in the withering of flowers during the reproductive stage.

Tola Faseru, president of the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), said there is going to be a slight decline in the country’s production owing to the harsh harmattan that comes with excessive heat that is not allowing flowers bud properly to produce the cashew fruits in major growing areas.

“However, the weather has supported the quality of the nuts, particularly in Oyo, Ogun, and Kogi. The quality of the Nigerian cashew has improved tremendously in recent years,” Faseru, who is also the commissioner for agriculture in Osun State, said.

According to him, work is ongoing to boost local production of cashews in the country, and farmers are currently supported to switch to the use of high-yield varieties while governments at the federal and state levels are making possible the availability of large areas suitable for the cultivation of the nuts.

Debo Thomas, chief executive of Hastom Nigeria – a cashew growing and exporting business, said production will be poor this year because of the excessive harmattan as flowers that were supposed to transform to fruits have all dried up in most trees in Ogbomosho – a top growing community of the nuts in Oyo.

“The harmattan has been characterised by dry wind, cold at night and hot during the day, transporting dusty particles that strongly contribute to the destruction of the cashew flowers,” he said.

Nigeria is the fourth largest grower of cashew nuts in Africa and sixth globally, with production estimated at 240,000 metric tonnes per annum.

Nigeria earned N194.2 billion in 2023 from cashew export, accounting for 15.61 percent of the country’s total agricultural exports, and 70 percent of the total nuts were exported to Vietnam, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Cashew has become a top-notch cash crop in Nigeria and the federal government identifies it as an agro-industrial crop as well as one of the priority crops to boost revenue and revamp the economy.

In Nigeria, cashew is usually harvested between February and June, though farmers stock the crop and export it all year round.

Ojo Ajanaku, national president of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), said the association is still hopeful that the country can still see a marginal rise in production as trees have started flowering again.

Ajanaku said prices have not been favourable for cashew farmers, unlike cocoa farmers who are currently laughing all the way to the bank.

“Cashew prices have been stable at the international market unlike cocoa where there has been a price rally,” he said.

“Also, the recent strengthening of the naira is also affecting cashew farmers because most exporters bought the nuts at the beginning of the season when the exchange was higher and exported it and now converting the export proceeds back to naira, the exporters are earning less,” he said.

A metric tonne of dried cashew nuts now sells for N1 million in Lagos as against N1.6 million sold when the season commenced in late January, indicating a 44 percent drop in price.

At the international market, a metric tonne sells for about $970 in Vietnam and $1,050 in India, according to the NCAN.