The Federal Government on Sunday put the country’s earnings from the export of cashew at $500m and stated that this was supporting about 500,000 families across the country.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, disclosed this in Abuja when he signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Department of Agriculture West Africa PRO-Cashew Project.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said in a statement issued in Abuja by an officer in the press department, Okeh Juliet, that the project would be for the development of the cashew agro industry.
The minister said the initiative would improve productivity, expand the national hectarage of the crop and achieve national food and nutrition security, revenue generation, exchange earnings, wealth creation and employment across the country.
“Nanono informed (his guests) that government’s focus is to continuously and sustainably develop the commodity for export because since the 1990s cashew has increased the Nigerian Gross Domestic Domestic ranking as the second non-oil export foreign exchange earner for the country,” the statement stated.
The ministry added, “It (cashew export) generated about $500m for the country in 2018, providing livelihood for about 300,000 to 500,000 families mostly youths and women in Nigeria.”
The minister was further quoted as saying, “Currently, the national production capacity of cashew in 2020 is 260,000 metric tonnes on 100,000 hectares of land. Average yield is 600kg/ha as against the global average of 1.23kg/ha.”
He said the latest initiative would help the ministry achieve an increased production capacity, rising from 260,000MT in 2020 to 350,000MT by 2023 and processing capacity from 15 per cent in 2020 to 35 per cent by 2023.
To kickstart the collaboration with the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew project, Nanono constituted the Cashew Value Chain Working Committee to look into the problems and challenges affecting the growth of the sub-sector in Nigeria.
He said the committee with the support of USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project would develop a 10-year strategic plan for Nigeria cashew project.
The Chief of Party/ Managing Director, USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project, Jeans Guay, said the project was a five-year West Africa project that would be implemented by cultivating on new frontiers in agriculture.