Cashew nuts in shell accounted for 24.96% of the total agricultural goods export valued at N60.5 billion according to a report from National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). A breakdown the above figure shows that cashew nuts in shell valued at N15.1 billion was exported to Vietnam, while cashew nuts valued at N8.3 billion and N2.2 billion was exported to Vietnam and India respectively.
The report shows further that cashew nuts traded during the period worth N16.22 billion, which is made up of cashew nuts in shell valued at N15.1 billion and cashew nuts shelled valued at N1.2 billion.
Over the years, Nigeria has been one of the largest producers of raw cashew nuts globally, rated fourth in the world, with an estimated yearly export volume of at least, $600 million and an untapped potential of over $500.8 million. During the period under review cashew emerged as the country’s second-biggest agricultural export, behind Sesames seed, according to the NBS.
Cashew nut, which remains a tropical tree crop, is a source of food, income, industrial raw materials and foreign exchange for many countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In Nigeria, a minimum of 300,000 metric tonnes is exported every year with current price of $2000, this translates to $600 million on yearly basis for exportation alone but when it is processed into cashew kernel, a ton of the processed kernel is about $6,000. If 300,000 metric tonnes of cashew is processed, and yield 1000 metric tonnes and 1000 metric tonnes multiplied by $6,000 is equivalent to $6 million. This reveals the strategic position of cashew to support the economy of the country.
The commercial cultivation of cashew dates back to more than 60 years, while research and development into its production, processing and marketing started in 1972. Currently, national production of raw nuts is estimated at 250,000 MT and expected to reach 500,000 metric tonnes by 2025. Presently, states in the South-East produce cashew, then in South-West except Lagos State produce cashew. States in the North Central produce large quantities of cashew and now cashew is produced in the North East and North West respectively. However, Just about 5% of the produced nuts are processed in Nigeria.
But despite the huge economic opportunity the produce holds, its potentials are yet to be fully harnessed, due to several factors, ranging from lack of support from government, lack of a national policy on cashew, absent of research and development, lack of capacity, poor storage facility for cashew fruits and many more.
To increase the uptake in revenues from cashew, the government should invest in research and development in the area of seedlings, new technologies to improve cashew productivity and increase the acreage of the production; collaborate with the National Cashew Association of Nigeria; develop the farmers and farmlands and put in place policies that aid activities in the cashew value chain among others. This in turn will create substantial jobs for the teeming unemployed youths, increase local consumption of cashew kernel and increase the income of players in the value – chain.