The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has strengthened ties with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a strategic plan for the Nigerian Cashew Industry spanning the next 10 years.
The ministry in a press statement on Sunday revealed that the Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Sabo Nanono signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the USDA-West Africa PRO-Cashew Project to expand the value chain and create more job opportunities.
According to Nanono, the Cashew Project in Nigeria will advance the national hectarage of the crop and improve productivity as well as the country’s food security and revenue generation.
The project is targeted at boosting the increased production capacity of cashew from 260,000MT in 2020 to 350,000MT by 2023 and processing capacity from 15 percent in 2020 to 35 percent by 2023.
Its details were revealed during the signing of the MoU and an Interactive Session with officials of the USDA-West Africa PRO-Cashew Project at the Ministry’s Conference Hall in Abuja.
As part of the project, the minister has also constituted the Cashew Value Chain Working Committee to dissect the value chain and kick-start operations with the foreign collaborators.
The members of the committee include the various stakeholders in the cashew value chain chaired by Mr. Roland Oroh, Managing Director, the Nigeria Agribusiness Registrar and Mrs Karima Babangida, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) as a member.
In Nanono’s remarks, the project was pertinent since cashew ranks as the 2nd Non-oil export foreign exchange earner for the country and generated about $500Million for the country in 2018. He said the government was fully committed to developing the commodity for export.
“Currently the National production capacity of Cashew in 2020 was 260,000MT on 100,000ha of land. Average yield was 600kg/ha as against the global average of 1.230kg/ha,” Nanono said.
The minister added that the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project and other stakeholders will work in tandem with the ministry to achieve the set target and help the country guide future interventions and woo investors to grow the value chain.
The project is also said to be implemented in partnership with Implemented by cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international development organization headquartered in Washington, DC.
Chief of Party/Managing Director of the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project, Mr. Jeans Francois Guay, who revealed this added that the five-year project will build the capacity of farmers’ organisations and agro- good suppliers in the areas of service delivery and business as well as orchard management.
He explained that the project can catalyze up to $10 million investment opportunities, create jobs, strengthen public and private partnerships, and improve trade and cashew farmers’ productivity in the value chain.
In her remarks, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA), Mrs Karima Babangida lauded the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project its intervention strategies to improve the Cashew sector in Nigeria and the West Africa Sub-region – alongside Benin, Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire.
Notable stakeholders present at the signing included; the President of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Hon. Ojo Ajanaku; the Executive Director Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Dr.Adeola Patrick; the Manager West Africa, GrainPro Inc., Mr Olu Adeyemi; Mr Bishnu Pattanaik of Huxley; among others.