Nigeria is currently the fourth largest producer of cashew nuts in Africa behind Ivory Coast, Mozambique and Tanzania while she also ranks sixth in the world.
With adequate planning, Nigeria can rank top both in Africa and the world considering the abundance of land and manpower in the country. Nigeria currently produces about 160,000 metric tonnes of raw export quality cashew nut.
Although, statistics showing cashew nuts production in Nigeria since year 2000 shows that production has constantly been on a steady increase, but even at that, these statistics can be greatly improved upon considering the vast resources and manpower home to Nigeria. The country is blessed with vast extension of sparse usable land and a young and vibrant population.
In order to significantly increase the production of cashew nuts to a satisfactory level, all hands must be on deck while all stakeholders in the cashew trade sector of Nigeria’s economy must actively work together to formulate new policies and strategies that would help skyrocket the production of cashew nuts in the country.
All aspects of the sector should also be looked into in order to correct hitches that can cause a decline in production.
When adequate measures are put in place, the production level increases amazingly. This will also be of great value to the country’s economy, it will also reduce the poverty level in the country by creating jobs for a lot more people.
It will also help in the diversification of the economy being proposed by the government. The following are some of the strategies or policies that will help skyrocket the production of export quality cashew nuts in Nigeria:
1. Adequate funding of research
One of the ways to improve the production of high quality cashew nuts is by investing greatly on every research related to cashew.
The government should as a matter of urgency set up a committee to look into areas in the cashew industry that needs research and also determine how much is needed to successfully complete all necessary research.
The Cashew Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) should also find ways to get stakeholders in the private sector to make tangible contributions to necessary research in the cashew industry.
Sufficient funding of research works in Nigeria’s cashew industry will greatly improve yield as high quality nuts for planting will hopefully be developed, better and cheaper methods of controlling cashew pests and diseases will also be hopefully introduced.
2. Introduction of high quality nuts
Most of the cashew nuts produced in the country are the low quality W320 and W280 breeds introduced in 1988. These nuts price low in the international market as most of the importing countries prefer the Brazilian jumbo nuts (W180 and W210) nuts.
This particular problem has contributed to the reduced income suffered by Nigerian exporters and local marketers. As a solution to this problem, the government should device a means of providing farmers with the best quality seeds for planting at very affordable rates. The local farmers should also be educated on the importance of planting the higher quality seeds.
3. Establishments of more research institutes
A lot of cashew farmers are normally faced with a problem or the other in which they may need answers from professionals and experts in the field.
But with only few cashew research institutes available in the country, their questions and problems are usually left unsolved. This in the end leads to lower yields or loss of investment.
In order to solve this problem, the government, through relevant agencies should build more cashew institute around the country, especially in the rural areas.
This will help encourage farmers as well as increase production capacity since cashew nut is fast becoming a concrete source of foreign exchange for the country.
4. Loans and grants for interested farmers
Considering the great potentials of cashew nut, the government should endeavor to support cashew farmers with loans and grants to help them expand their business.
Banks and financial institutions should also provide special services that makes soft loans available to cashew farmers and investors interested in the other sub sectors of the cashew industry in Nigeria. This will also help put a significant increase to the current production capacity.
5. Organization of seminars and workshop
Seminars and workshops should be organized for farmers and other stakeholders in the cashew industry.
This will help keep them informed of the latest developments in the cashew industry. It will also allow them learn important strategies and techniques that will help improve production. It will also help them learn how to tackle various problems that affects production.
6. Stiff penalties against bush burning
There is always a traditional bush burning trend during the dry season, which is the same period cashew nuts are harvested.
Most of the farms and plantations are located in areas highly susceptible to bush burning. During this period, a number of farms are caught up in the fire, resulting to loss of investments and reduction in the production capacity.
Government, through the necessary channels should set up strict laws against incessant bush burning. Government should also inform the public about the dangers of bush burning through the media. This way, the ill trend will be eradicated and then cashew production in Nigeria can hit optimal level.
7. Youth empowerment
Since Cashew nut is always in high demand both locally and internationally, the cashew trade can be used as a form of youth empowerment.
This will help reduce the increasing rate of unemployment and youth restiveness in the country. The government and the private sector can sponsor schemes which will see youths assembled from all over the country and they will be adequately trained and empowered with funds enough to start the cashew trade. This will also improve productivity since manpower has been increased.
8. Establishment of cashew processing industries
In Nigeria, we currently have just six cashew processing industries. The output of this industries are not enough to meet the local demand.
This is a major reason why more cashew processing industries need to be built by both the government and private investors.
This will also boost production as a lot of people will readily go into the cashew trade since they are very sure that there will always be an available market for their products.
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