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NEPC urges Abia farmers to add value to cashew nut for export

NEPC moves to relaunch Nigeria as net exporter of palm oil

The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), the country’s lead agency in the promotion of non-oil export sector of the economy, has advised cashew farmers in Abia state, to add value to raw cashew nuts by processing it into cashew karnels and package it for export.

Ezra Yakusak, executive director, NEPC, gave the advice in Umuahia, the Abia state capital, at a-day sensitisation workshop tagged “Export market meet with cashew nut farmers, processors, exporters and other stakeholders, organised by its Aba smart office.

Yakusak, who recently took over the leadership of NEPC, from Olusegun Awolowo, explained that cashew is predominant in some local government areas of Abia state, including Umunneochi, Bende and Isikwuato.

He stated that Nigeria is one of the largest producers of cashew nut in the world and endowed with tropical climate that favours growth of the product, which is in high demand in the international market.

The new NEPC boss, who was represented at the event by Roselyn Ekanem, a trade promotion advisor, and head Aba Smart Office of the council, however regretted that some African countries are ahead of Nigeria in production and export of cashew nut.

In order to increase production and develop its markets, he noted that NEPC has elected to itself, to promote cashew nut and it’s production technology among farmers, processors, and other stakeholders.

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He stated that adding value to cashew nut, by processing it into cashew kernel and package it for export, would reduce exploitation, by the Indians and other middlemen.

He further stated that inspire of huge potentials inherent in cashew nut and it’s derivatives, the sub-sector is yet to experience any remarkable growth, due to lack of skills, aged plantations and inability to add value to the product.

“It is pertinent to note that if cashew nut is properly processed, packaged and exported, it would not only generate foreign exchange, but also create jobs for our unemployed youths”.

He affirmed that the council had in the past employed a number of promotional strategies aimed at motivating stakeholders in non-oil sector, stressing that the hosting of the “Export market meet”, is another strategy to educate stakeholders in cashew nut sub-sector on how to progress from exporting raw cashew nut to processed cashew karnels.

Okechukwu Amaechi, a trade development expert and a staff of the Aba Smart Office of NEPC, stated that the development of the non-oil sector must be aggressively pursued if Nigeria must improve on its gross domestic product (GDP).

Amaechi, who delivered a paper titled “Overview of NEPC activities”, noted that the pace of industrialisation of Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, among others are attributed largely to adding value to what they have, as well as exporting such products.

“In view of the abundant natural resource endowments, Nigeria has all it takes to emulate the Asian tigers, if not surprising them”.

He stressed that if Nigeria must come out of its economic crisis, occasioned by oil glut, it must embrace export.