An Expert, Mr Adejoh Stephen, has urged public and private companies involved in the local processing of cashew nuts to take advantage of its excellent international market to earn more foreign exchange.
Stephen, who is the Managing Director of RiB Cashew Company made the plea in an interview with the NIGERIA NEWS in Abuja on Thursday.
He described Nigeria as the world’s sixth largest producer of cashew with annual production of about 120,000 tonnes.
“Currently, 75 to 80 per cent of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria are exported, as only very few companies are involved in local processing of the produce.
“The government’s liberalisation policy on commodity crops has impacted significantly on the prices and demand for raw cashew nuts in the recent past. However, Nigeria offers one of the cheapest sources of raw cashew nuts.
“Nigerian nuts have consistently served the Indian and Vietnamese cashew factories and in recent years have added to the Brazilian market.
“The kernels are well accepted in the U.S. and Western Europe because of the high quality of the produce,’’ he said.
According to Stephen, the cashew tree has been cultivated for food and medicine for 400 years and the various parts of the cashew fruits like apple, nut and kernel are of economic value.
“Cashew Apple is an edible food rich in Vitamin C. It can be dried, canned as a preserve or eaten fresh from the tree.
“It can also be squeezed for fresh juice, which can then be fermented into cashew wine which is a very popular drink in West Africa.
“Cashew nut kernel is the edible portion of the nut and is consumed indirectly by the consumers as roasted and salted nuts. It can be used in confectionery and bakery products.
“Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) is a vicious and dark liquid, which is extremely caustic. It is an important and versatile industrial raw material for phenolic resins and friction powder for the automotive industry,’’ Stephen said.
He noted that CNSL also had an excellent international market and its imports had reached almost 10 million dollars annually, corresponding to the sale of the raw liquid.
Stephen said the exporting country would earn much more foreign currency if manufactured products were exported, noting that this was a great opportunity for both public and private companies to come on board.
He also pleaded that the Federal, State and Local Government should help solve some challenges affecting investments in the cultivation of cashew in Nigeria.
“The problems associated with the acquisition of large expanse of land and initial capital outlay.
“ Poor handling of cashew production and defective export packaging processes for the international market may be costing Nigeria about N177 billion annually.
“The agents penetrate villages in the producing areas in order to source supplies. Competition, especially when export prices are attractive, tends to develop between established buyers and local firms.
“Certified seed, pest and diseases also affect the production level of the established plantation, among others’’, Stephen said.
NAN reports that states producing the cash crop are: Kaduna, Abia, Kogi, Kwara, Oyo, Niger, Imo and Abuja and production can rely on all-year-round.
NAN also reports that cashew is commonly eaten as food.