• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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BusinessDay

What Nigeria can learn from African peers to boost cashew exports

dried-cashew-nuts

Industry stakeholders have said Nigeria can scale up its production of cashew and cocoa by putting in place a framework that will attract investors to come in as Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have done.

Cocoa and cashew are among the major agricultural products in the country as they make up two-third of the nation’s leading cash crops in terms of export and foreign exchange earnings as indicated by data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana are the two largest producers of cocoa, accounting for over 60 percent of global cocoa production, according to World Atlas while Nigeria accounts for 6.5 percent of global cocoa production, according to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council.

Data obtained from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) showed that the top exporters of cocoa beans in 2020 were Cote d’Ivoire ($3.52 billion), Ghana ($1.28 billion), Ecuador ($823 million), Cameroon ($590 million), and Nigeria ($489 million).

As at 2020/2021, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, according to the International Cocoa Organization, were estimated to produce about 2.25 million tonnes and 1.05 million tonnes of cocoa respectively, while Nigeria was estimated to produce 290,000 tonnes of cocoa.

According to a report by the World Bank titled ‘Cashing in on Cashews in Cote d’Ivoire’, the value of cashew exports for Cote d’Ivoire is estimated at $800 million annually.

However, based on analyses by OEC, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana ranked as one of the world’s top exporters of fresh or dried cashew nuts in 2019, with a valuation of $804 million and $351 million respectively.

In 2020, Cote d’Ivoire’s cashew exports stood at $708 million while Ghana’s cashew exports totalled $354 million.

In comparison with Nigeria, cashew exports stood at $246 million and $215 million in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

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According to the African Cashew Alliance, in Africa, several cashew-producing countries have put various structures and institutions in place to regulate the industry.

Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Ghana have all established different regulatory structures for their cashew sectors.

Cote d’Ivoire’s Cashew and Cotton Council, according to Adama Coulibaly, its director general, was a product of an agreement among major cashew actors and stakeholders including the government.

According to Coulibaly, proper regulation and organisation of the cashew sector, especially farmgate stabilisation, encourages farmers, and increases productivity and quality, while also ensuring the availability of raw cashew nuts for local processors, leading to the overall growth of the sector.

The council is thus responsible for organising and regulating the cashew supply chain in Cote d’Ivoire. It formulates and implements policies and initiatives to ensure the growth of the cashew sector in Cote d’Ivoire.

Similarly, in Ghana, the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) was inaugurated in September 2020 and is now the regulatory body for cashew and 5 other tree crops.

According to sections 2 and 3 of the Tree Crops Development Authority Act, 2019 (Act 1010), the TCDA is to regulate and develop the production, processing, trading, and marketing of cashew, mango, shea, coconut, rubber, and oil palm. It has also been mandated to conduct research into developing the sectors, provide technical support as well as coordinate and facilitate the capacity building of farmers, processors, traders, and exporters.

Policy regulation of the cashew sector in Ghana is a direct responsibility of the TCDA. Also in 2020, the Cashew Council Ghana (CCG) was established to serve as the mother association of all cashew private sector associations and to work closely with the TCDA to regulate the cashew sector in Ghana.

The policies that have helped boost the exportation of cocoa beans by these countries can be linked to the availability of cocoa boards in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire (Ghana Cocoa Board and Ivorian Coffee and Cocoa Council).

Adeola Adegoke, president of the National Cocoa Farmers Association, told BusinessDay that the Nigerian cocoa beans performed better with the existence of cocoa boards and a lot of regulations in terms of production.

He, however, said the cocoa board was scrapped and the market became an open market where demand and supply determine the price.

He said that in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, “there are a lot of sustainability programmes and government policies targeting the empowerment of the smallest farmers in terms of good agronomic practices making sure that premium cocoa is produced.”

Adegoke thinks Nigeria needs to revert to the old system of creating synergy in all the cocoa produces whereby there is a specific designated policy and a special unit that would deal with cocoa farmers’ services like the cocoa development unit in the early days where farmers’ problems are tabled and tackled.

Ojo Joseph Ajanaku, president of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria, told BusinessDay in an interview that a conference will be coming up on September 12 to 15 called Africa Cashew Alliance (ACA) Cashew Conference.

According to him, the conference seeks majorly to harmonise the sector, bringing all the key players in the value chain together to discuss the way forward, especially how to attract local and international investors.

“One of the major reasons we are not doing up to the countries in consideration is not because they have better land than us or that they are more interested in cashew, it’s just that there is no quality framework for cashew industry in Nigeria that will attract investors to come in,” Ajanaku said.