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Nigerian Farmers Lament Wastage of Cashew Apples
Poor handling, inadequate processing techniques and lack of funding have led to the loss of 1.8 million tonnes of cashew apples, the National Cashew Association of Nigeria has said.
Cashew, a major cash crop capable of creating over 344,000 jobs in Nigeria, is grown across all the geopolitical zones in the country.
The spokesman for the association, Mr. Anga Sotonye, in an interview with our correspondent on Friday said that about 180 million tonnes of cashew, which could be processed into fruit juice, were being wasted annually because the focus was on the nuts alone.
He said, â€œThe wastage is just too much. We are talking about 90 per cent of our cashew apples. The cashew shell liquid that is used for a lot of industrial applications is wasted because we do not use it. This is one industry that we need to explore which has not been tapped.â€
To add value to the crop by processing it into finished products, Sotonye said it was pertinent for the government to support farmers with a N10bn cashew intervention fund.
The fund, which he said had been advocated over two years, would enhance the market acceptability of the crop and its by-products globally.
He said, â€œIf farmers can access those funds, they will be able to establish cashew processing factories across the country. Government should come to the rescue of farmers and the N10bn cashew intervention fund should be created now.â€
Meanwhile, the cashew farmers have protested the low price of N200 being offered for the product per kilogramme.
They said following the rising cost of production, the N200 price was no longer profitable.
As a result, they threatened to reduce their production and diversify into other crops with better chances of huge financial returns.
Commenting on the issue, the Chief Executive Officer, Business Craft Limited, an agro-exporting company, Mr. Ade Israel, said that the drop in price was a global phenomenon and was being determined by Indians who are the major buyers of the crop.
He added that at the time the crop was purchased for N200 from farmers, it was being exported at $700 per metric tonne.
He, however, noted that the price had been restored to $1,200 per metric tonne in the international market.
Israel said, â€œThe Indians control the market. If they want the price to crash, they would ignore the produce and once they have exhausted the stored cashew, they demand for it.â€
As part of measures to prevent a decline in the business, Sotonye said that before the harvest season of the crop, the association would serve as an intermediate marketer to procure the product directly from the farmers at regulated prices.
According to him, the association was working in conjunction with the Ministries of Agriculture, Finance and Industry, Trade and Investment to establish a National Cashew Marketing Corporation that would guarantee a consistent market and regulated price for the crop.