BusinessDay

FG targets $6.9bn global cashew market with special value chain interventions

...inaugurates cashew nut shell liquid extraction plants in Ogun, Kogi ....distributes 11million seeds to farmers

As part of efforts geared towards earning more foreign exchange and increase the non-oil sector’s contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), the Federal Government has rolled out special cashew value chain interventions meant for all-year round cashew industry development.

As it stands, Nigeria produces less than 500,000 metric tons of cashew, creates less than 100,000 jobs in all its entire value chain and earns less than N25 billion from cashew produce and products sales yearly on the account of aging cashew trees, reduced yields, poor storage facilities and processing.

According to statistics from the Cashew Farmers, Aggregators and Processors of Nigeria, Nigeria’s cashew production is not only poorly executed but also lacks efforts on processing of about 80-90percent, prompting raw cashew exports to foreign countries.

Going by this ugly scenario playing out in the sector, Nigeria seems to be losing out from projected $6.9 billion World market size by 2025 as released by Dublin, Ireland-based Research and Markets on the account of aging and poor-yielding cashew trees, lack of storage facilities and poorly conducted cashew processing into kernel and shell liquid for local consumption and exports.

Consequently, the Federal Government has started rolling out the special cashew value chain interventions with provision of jumbo cashew seeds, processing of cashew nuts and inauguration of cashew nut shell liquid extraction plants in some states with a view boosting value chain development template of the Federal Government.

Through the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), an agency under the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, the Federal Government has distributed 10 millions jumbo cashew seeds in the last two and planning to give additional one million jumbo cashew seeds before the planting season.

This is being done as a follow-up action to the provision of cashew nuts processing and warehousing facilities undertook by the Nigeria’s Commodity Exchange meant to boost the supply chain of cashew nuts and shell liquid as the RMRDC has also inaugurated two cashew nut shell liquid extraction plants in Ogun and Kogi States.

Speaking recently in Abeokuta during the inauguration of Cashew Nut Shell Liquid Extraction Plant at Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Hussaini Ibrahim, Director-General, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, noted that the inauguration of the second cashew nut shell liquid extraction plant in Abeokuta would boost manufacturing activities of paint, cosmetic and chemical industries in the State and the country at large.

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The director-general, who was represented by Bolarinwa Olugbemi, Director, Planning and Policy Development, said that FUNAAB and Ogun State were chosen as location of Cashew Nut Shell Liquid Extraction Plant due to the largest concentration of Paint, Cosmetic and Chemical Plants as well as the collaborative efforts researchers in the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB).

He said, “It’s a collaborative project of the Council and FUNAAB. All we are doing is to solve the problem of importing products of this project which is cashew nut shell liquid which is used in Paint, Cosmetic industry wood finishing, for pesticide, herbicide and the wastes which we cannot throw away, is good for fertiliser and animal feeds.

“So, this commissioning today and what will follow after, which is product development, would expand the scope of this project to kick start small- scale industries in the State, so that our small scallers will now come over to pick ideas from here and start their own businesses from the products that emanate from this project and that is essence of our collaboration with FUNAAB and Ogun State.

“If you know the amount of money we are spending on cashew nut shell liquid alone, it will boggle your mind, so, what we are trying to do now is to cut imports, the raw materials are there, cashew is grown in every major part of the Country. Ogun State is one of the biggest producers of cashew. The project will save the Country lots foreign exchange we spend to import and engage our youths and create wealth.

“RMRDC is working tirelessly to replace our old cashew trees with new varieties- jumbo cashew. For now, we have distributed over 10 millions jumbo cashew seeds to the farmers across the nation in the last two years, we are giving additional one millions this planting season and we believe that with this quantum that we have given to farmers, in the next one year, we will start having cashew nuts that can boost supply chain.”

Responding on behalf of FUNAAB, Olusola Kehinde, Professor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Development), declared that the Institution had been repositioned to complement Federal Government’s effort to ensuring that the Country’s capacity in cashew farming, production, storage and processing is boosted in order to cut huge foreign exchange being spent on imports of cashew nut shell liquid annually, for industrial use.

He said, “We have partnership with RMRDC in several areas, chief among them is cashew value chain, it donated a cashew processing unit for us where we process nuts, but now, RMRDC has gone a bit further by giving us cashew nut shell liquid extraction machine.

“What we are going to do is to characterise the oil that comes from this and after the charactization, then, we develop several products that will be used in the industry. Eventually, we will create a centre for the entrepreneurial training in cashew value chain.”

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