Kogi state has said it would enlist cashew farming into its Anchor Borrowers Programme to assist farmers in boosting the production of high-quality nuts for export.
In a courtesy visit to the state Ministry of Agriculture by the National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Kogi state chapter, David Apeh, the state Commissioner of Agriculture said in his office that the state has a comparative advantage in the production of the crop.
He said that Kogi produces 54 percent of Nigeria’s total cashew production of about 200,000 tons while other states cumulatively produce the remaining 46 percent.
Apeh equally hinted that, that there was the need for the state government to intervene and ensure the listing of cashew as one of the crops to benefit from the Anchor Borrowers Scheme which currently supports rice farming.
“With the Anchor Borrowers intervention, issues of fertilizers, even credit facilities will be addressed because under Anchor Borrowers scheme, farmers have money for labour and a lot of other things”, he said.
The commissioner also pledged to look into the timely distribution of fertilizers with other growth-enhancing chemicals and nutrients as well as the distribution of hybrid seeds to the farmers.
Earlier in his address, Ibrahim Siaka (Duche), state chairman of the NCAN said the association was solidly behind the government to ensure that its policies and programmes in the agriculture sector were not sabotaged.
Ibrahim Siaka sought the state government’s assistance in the provision of improved seedlings, storage (warehousing), logistics, and vehicles for the Cashew Task Force to monitor and discourage the influx of low-quality nuts into the state.
He added that government intervention on issues of double taxation and exploitation by security agencies, ‘invisible market’ sale of wet nuts and mechanisation of the farming processes would go a long way to correct all the anomalies in the cashew business.
“Our major problem is the quality of our cashew seedlings,” he said.
“Despite being the largest producer of the nuts, we are not the major beneficiaries of cashew. Cote d’Ivoire is a small country but produces 800,000 tons and the quality of their cashew is better than ours,” he added.
He stated that Cote d’ Ivoire was able to increase its cashew production owing to the adoption of mechanised farming which Nigeria is yet to adopt.
“Cashew has something called Kernel Output Ratio (KOR). Our kernel is good but our size of cashew is not jumbo. We need the jumbo size because it sells better at the international market,” he said.