NIGERIA – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) West Africa through its PRO-Cashew Project, has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Federal Government of Nigeria to develop the nation’s cashew industry.
The initiative is aimed to improve productivity and expand the national hectarage of the commodity, towards achieving national food and nutrition security, revenue generation, exchange earnings, wealth creation, and employment in the country, reports Vanguard.
It is expected to catalyse up to US$10 million investment opportunities, create jobs, strength public and private partnership, improve trade, as well as cashew farmers’ productivity in the value chain.
According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono, since the 1990s cashew has increased Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product and is ranked 2nd as non-oil export foreign exchange earner for the country.
In 2018 it generated about US$500 million, providing a livelihood for about 300,000 to 500,000 families mostly youths and women in Nigeria.
The national production capacity of cashew in 2020 was 260,000 metric tonnes on 100,000ha of land. The average yield was 600kg/ha as against the global average of 1.230kg/ha.
With the initiative, the ministry targets to increase production to 350,000 metric tonnes by 2023, and processing capacity from 15 per cent in 2020 to 35 per cent by 2023.
The Managing Director of the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project, Jeans Francois Guay, highlighted that the project is a five years undertaking, implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international development organization headquartered in Washington, DC.
CNFA will build capacity of the value chain by working with farmer organizations and agro-goods suppliers in the areas of service delivery and business, and orchard management; Develop agro-dealers and input suppliers to improve the efficiency and suitability of seedlings production system through a public-private partnership.
Other than in Nigeria, the project is also undertaken in Benin, Burkina Faso and Cote d’ lvoire.
FG inaugurates committee to standardise Nigeria’s agric exports
To further ensure the growth of Nigeria’s agriculture sector, the government has inaugurated the Inter-Ministerial Technical Committee on Zero Reject of Agricultural Commodities and Produce/Non-Oil Exports from the country.
According to The Punch, the move would ensure the standardisation of Nigeria’s agricultural produce and its acceptance by the international community.
Nanono said, “Our desire for standard agricultural products and non-oil exports means there will be vigorous pursuit of investment in quality control and standardisation.
“As we pursue this, my ministry, in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, is committed not only to food security, but wholesome foods of high quality acceptable for local consumption and export.”
The minister expressed worry over the recent rejection of Nigerian beans by the European Union, as the target to attain food sufficiency export would not be achieved if the country’s produce failed to meet international food certification standards.
This, he said, should be a source of concern to Nigerians, particularly the ministries, departments and agencies charged with the responsibility of producing and certifying produce for export.
“Do not also forget that whatever is being rejected elsewhere could be what we are consuming locally, therefore putting our health into jeopardy by not paying attention to quality assurance,” Nanono stated.
Nanono charged members of the committee and stakeholders in the agricultural sector to join hands and to achieve the mandate of agricultural standardisation in Nigeria.
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