NIGERIA – The National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) has called for the Federal Government to enact policies that would promote the cashew industry.

The president of the association, Mr Ojo Ajanaku, says that it is important for the country to have policies regulating the cashew industry to save in order to prevent exploitation.

“At the moment there is no law to guide the import and export of cashew as a raw material from Nigeria.

“As a country, we do not have any law, no single policy at all guiding the industry’s stakeholders, or guiding importation and exportation.

“Enacting these laws would also help preserve cashew as a Nigerian raw material, among Nigerians; and regulate the industry on a global and local level,” he said.

Ajanaku notes that despite great potential in the cashew industry, it has not been fully maximised and was yet to be exploited in terms of meeting consumers demand.

“Currently, we produce only 220,000 tonnes of cashew yearly, but with more favourable policies, we would have less wastage of the seed and meet up with local and foreign demand,” he said.

He added that favourable government policies can help build the cashew industry and make it a competing product in the international market.

Nigeria is rated as the fourth largest producer of cashew nuts in Africa and seventh in the world, with the bulk of its raw cashew nuts and cashew kernels exported to Vietnam and India, respectively.

Across much of West Africa, cashew trees represent a major cash crop, with raw cashew nut production hitting 1.5m tonnes, or over 43% of the global supply in 2018, according to the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.

However, the bulk of what is produced locally (around 90%) is exported as unprocessed raw nuts to processors in India and Vietnam, before being dispatched to supermarkets in Europe and the United States.

Vietnam imported around 53% of the world’s raw cashew nuts and India accounted for 45% last year. The loss of added value is worth about US$200m, the World Bank estimates.

This large untapped processing potential is providing new opportunities in West Africa region, where large-scale international processors like Singapore’s Olam International, European snack company Intersnack, Brazilian group Usibras, and Singapore’s international commodity trader Valency International all have a footprint.

Currently, the industry is worth over US$7bn and for the countries to become a dominant force in the cashew chain there is a need to invest in mechanised processing, new efforts to improve the productivity of farmers and creating favourable business climates for processors to compete.