NIGERIA – The Federal Government has started mobilising its agencies to ensure effective development of raw materials along value chains in order to save N3 trillion annually, decrying unchecked exports of unprocessed cashew nuts and other agricultural produce.
Walid Jubrin, chairman, governing board, Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), who said this at the commissioning of FUNAAB cashew processing factory donated by RMRDC at the weekend, revealed that the Federal Government has started mobilising Raw Materials Research Development Council, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Bank of Industry (BoI), Bank of Agriculture (BoA), Cashew Association of Nigeria, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, among others, to ensure effective development of raw materials along value chains in order for Nigeria to save N3 trillion on improved agricultural production annually.
Jubrin noted that unchecked exportation of unprocessed agricultural produce, especially cashew nuts, has been a major threat to the country’s economic development in the area of value chain which would continue to plague Nigeria’s economy except quick and tangible efforts are made.
He said that Nigeria despite being ranked 3rd among the top 10 world cashew nut producers with annual production of 594,000 tons in 2012, could not process more than 10 percent cashew nuts locally which necessitated the bulk export of unprocessed cashew nuts.
The RMRDC governing board chairman said that the Federal Government, having realised bulk of revenue as well as direct and indirect employments the country is losing as a result of unchecked exportation of unprocessed agricultural produce, particularly cashew nuts, devised means through which raw materials could be processed for all-round economic growth.
“It is on record that Nigeria ranks as the 3rd among the top 10 world cashew nut producers with annual production of 594,000 tons in 2012. It is, however, sad to note that between only 5 percent and 10 percent of these are locally processed and the rest exported or smuggled out in raw form to India, Vietnam, Brazil, etc despite the huge demand for processed cashew nuts in the country”, he said.
He said the Federal Government through the Raw Materials Research and Development Council is shifting its interest to processing secondary raw materials as a deliberate strategic plan to develop agricultural produce along the industrial value chains and therefore donated cashew processing factory to FUNAAB as part efforts to instill the culture of raw materials processing among Nigerians.
Receiving the cashew processing plant from the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Olusola Oyewole, vice chancellor, FUNAAB, said that the choice of FUNAAB for the location of the plant started between 1999 and 2005 when the agriculture-based university planted 160 hectares of cashew trees ahead of cashew nuts processing plant which was initially financed by the then Education Trust Fund (ETF).
Oyewole said that the RMRDC had, however, re-positioned the plant and had therefore, “gone through several transformation processes which aim at adding value to production of cashew and its varieties”, just as he noted that the plant would produce varieties of cashew products in commercial quantity.