• Monday, June 17, 2024
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BusinessDay

Cashew output seen rising 20% on good weather

Kogi’s choice of cashew for OSOP a great opportunity to boost economy – NEPC

Nigeria’s cashew output is expected to rise 20 percent on favourable weather conditions, which have helped boost output for the 2021/22 season to an estimated 192,000 tons, the national president of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria, has said.

Nigeria is the fourth-largest producer of cashew nuts in Africa and sixth globally, with 160,000 metric tons per annum, according to data from the country’s agriculture ministry.

“The weather condition has been very favourable with moderate harmattan. Most of the trees we have seen across key growing states are fruiting well,” Ojo Ajanaku, national president, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), said.

“We expect our output to increase by at least 20 percent this year. Also, a lot of new trees will start fruiting this year and that will also contribute to our output for the year,” Ajanaku said.

The quality of the nuts will also be very good owing to the mild harmattan that will help in reducing the level of heat during the storage of the crop, he noted.

Despite the COVID-19 omicron variant uncertainty, accelerating inflation, increasing shipping and logistic cost, demand for Nigeria’s cashew crop has remained strong on the back of cashew being an immunity-boosting food.

Cashew farmers in Africa’s most populous expect prices to hit an average of N500,000 per metric ton on the decline in Indian production and surging demand from Vietnam and Asia.

“We are already getting orders and we expect prices to surge. There has been a global commodity rally and cashew will not be left out,” Tola Faseru, president, African Cashew Alliance, said, noting, “2020/2021 cashew season was not too favourable to farmers as the Covid restrictions in Vietnam, America, and Europe affected demand.”

Countries are now relaxing restrictions and the demand for the nut is rising, he stated.

Last year, Nigeria’s cashew industry suffered a major setback as the COVID-19 restriction forced Vietnam, the largest exporter and buyer of African cashew, to cut demand.

Read also: Address insecurity to boost food production in 2022, farmers urge FG

Also, surging freight prices and shortage of containers further impacted the season negatively for the farmers.

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

It has become a top-notch cash crop in Nigeria and it is one of the focused commodities by the Buhari-led government to revamp the Nigerian economy.

It can be eaten and also serves as industrial raw materials in firms producing chemicals, paints, varnishes, insecticides and fungicides, electrical conductress, and several types of oil, and also for the food and beverage industry.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria earned N42.9 billion from cashew nuts export in the first nine months of 2021, and 70 percent of the total nuts for the period were exported to Vietnam.

“We have even started harvesting our cashew and drying to start exporting,” said Debo Thomas from his cashew farm in Ogbomosho, Oyo State, saying, “The trees are doing very well and we are very hopeful that prices will be better this year than last year.”

The bulk of Nigeria’s cashew nuts and kernels are exported to Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Cashew crops can be grown in the entire South-West, South-South, and South-East region, with Enugu, Oyo, Anambra, Osun and Kogi having the largest production areas.

“We have started getting requests from Vietnam and Japan to supply cashew, so we are very optimistic about the season,” said Bankole Olukorede, a cashew trader in Lagos.

“I visited Ogbomosho, and farmers have started harvesting and drying. With the fruiting I saw on cashew trees, I am very sure our output will increase,” he said.