Cashew farmers and other stakeholders in the crop’s value chain in Kogi State have appealed to both state and federal government to accord them necessary attention to enable them contribute more to the nation’s economy. Respondents who spoke to North Central Trust separately during the State congress of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) in Lokoja, were unanimous that though cashew produce especially the nuts have shown great promise of becoming a veritable revenue earner for the country, there are numbers of impediments which tended to stall the targeted progress.
They called on the Federal Government to save the industry from collapse through initiatives such as the provision of incentives to farmers to expand their trade and protection of farms against encroachment from foreigners. Chief Abraham Adeshida, a key stakeholder in the Cashew Industry in Nigeria and Secretary of the Board of Trustees (BOT) of the association, said a formidable structure was required to tackle challenges facing the industry. He said that there was need to properly articulate the interests of cashew farmers if the country must take full benefits of the comparative advantage Nigeria had over other producers of the commodity. He said despite the inherent challenges cashew farmers and stakeholders were able to put Nigeria on the world map by emerging the fourth largest produce.
He noted that export earnings from cashew nuts have witnessed a steady increase within the last few years, rising from 152, 000,000 dollars in 2015, to 259,000,000 dollars in 2016 and 402, 050,000 dollars in 2017. However, he lamented that poor handling of cashew production and defective export packaging processes have made Nigeria to be losing N177 billion ($491.6 million) yearly since 2012. Chief Oke Okoroafor, CEO of Mangro Farms Ltd, a major cashew value chain investor in the South-East Nigeria, said that agriculture was a key driver of all economically strong countries of the world, while calling governments at all levels to take the sector seriously. Okafor, who is a major investor in the cashew value chain, said he had invested over N200 million without government’s assistance or facility from any bank and called for easy access to credit facilities to farmers. Also speaking at the occasion, National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Mr Ojo Ajanaku said the association registered in 2004 had not been able to find its bearing due to lack of proper organisational structure. He said that even in Kogi, which is the largest producer of cashew nuts with over 20,000 members of the association, the dearth of proper structure had impeded growth and investment in cashew. “Our challenges majorly have been lack of proper organisational structure which we are now trying to put in place. There have been some infiltrations by foreigners in the system which is actually not giving us control over the trade. “Our farmers have financial challenges. They need a lot of financial assistance from the government to put a lot of things in place but accessing them have not been that easy”, the National President said. North Central Trust reports that Alhaji Ibrahim Siaka (Duche) emerged the State Chairman; Jibrin Haruna clinched the Second Vice Chairman and Muhammed Yakubu, was elected Secretary at the Congress. Others are Alhaji Ademu Makama, Vice Chairman, Kogi East; Abejirin Johnson, Vice Chairman, Kogi West; Audu Zubair, Vice Chairman, Kogi Central; Ahmed Igonoh, Treasurer; Abdulrahim Haruna, Assistant Treasurer among others.