Mr Oke Okoroafor, a major cashew value chain investor in the country, has called on government at all levels to ensure the strict implementation of policies on agriculture.
Okoroafor, who is also the CEO of Mangrove Farms Ltd, made the call on Sunday in Lokoja during the congress of Kogi chapter of National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN).
He said there was need for government to “walk their talk” on policy implementation and encouragement of investment in the agriculture sector.
Okoroafor said that all economically strong countries of the world never played with agriculture, and therefore urged governments at Federal, State and Local levels to take agriculture seriously by encouraging investment in the sector.
As a major investor in the cashew value chain, Okoroafor said he had invested over N200 million without government assistance or facility from any bank other than equity investment, adding that such should not be the case.
In his remarks, Mr Ojo Ajanaku, National President of NCAN said the association, which was registered in 2004, had not found its bearing due to lack of proper organisation.
He said that Kogi,which is the largest producer of cashew nuts, had over 20,000 members of the association but some challenges had impeded growth and investment in cashew.
“Our major challenge has been lack of proper organisational structure,which we are now trying to put in place.
“There have been some infiltration of foreigners in the system,which is actually not giving us control over the trade.
“Our farmers have financial challenges; they need financial assistance from the government to put a lot of things in place, but accessing funds had not been that easy,” he lamented.
In his speech, Chief Abraham Adeshida, Secretary, NCAN Board of Trustees, 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 was to take full benefits of the comparative advantage it had over other producers of the commodity.
Also speaking during the congress, Mr Isaac Ojonugwa, representative of the Federation of Agricultural Commodity Associations of Nigeria (FACAN), said he was in the state to monitor the congress and ensure that farmers were well-organised.
He said FACAN had the mandate to coordinate the activities of commodity associations in the country to enable such commodities compete in the international market.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that at the end of the congress, Alhaji Ibrahim Siaka (Duche)emerged the State Chairman, Jibrin Haruna became the second Vice Chairman and Muhammed Yakubu was elected Secretary.
Others elected were Alhaji Ademu Makama, Vice Chairman,Kogi East; Abejirin Johnson, Vice Chairman, Kogi West; Audu Zubair, Vice Chairman, Kogi Central; Ahmed Igonoh, Treasurer and Abdulrahim Haruna, Assistant Treasurer, among others.