By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said that it would harness the Cashew Value Chain to generate over 500,000 jobs for the unemployed youth and improve the economy.
Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Abdulkadir Mu’azu stated this at the two-day National Cashew Stakeholders Meeting and Farmers Field Day on Friday in Zaria.
Represented by Mr Bernand Chukwuemeka, Deputy Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, he said cashew value chain is among the top priority commodity value chains being promoted by the ministry.
Dr. Mu’azu said, the promotion of the commodity by the ministry is due to cashew’s enormous potentials for employment generation for the youth and foreign exchange earnings.
“Nigeria’s current national output is 175,000 metric tonnes from 150,000 hectares with an average yield of 350 kilogrammes per hectare as against the global average yield of 1,230 kilogrammes per hectare”.
“Increasing Nigeria’s raw cashew nuts production of between 175,000 metric tonnes by 20 per cent will give rise to more than 500,000 new jobs and $10m additional income.”
He said this indicates that the cashew industry can be grown sustainably in Nigeria if all hands are on deck, this is why we are gathered here today,” he said.
He added that the meeting was to create awareness on the socioeconomic benefits accruable from the cashew value chain and give effect to the successful implementation of the cashew value chain.
“The meeting would also design and present a feasible and sustainable model of the cashew value chain agenda for implementation among others”.
In his address, Dr Ibiremo Samuel, Director Cashew Research Department, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria said the institute has mandate for the genetic improvement of cashew in Nigeria.
He said the institute has developed high yielding and early bearing cashew varieties, and developed protocols mitigate pest and diseases for cashew.
According to him, the value addition department of the institute has developed cashew juice, and other protocol of training women and youths on juice and wine making from cashew.
In his remarks, Mr Ojo Ajanaku, National President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) urged the participants to brainstorm and come out with a blueprint that would be adopted for the implementation of the National Cashew Master plan.
Ajanaku who was represented by Mr Stephen Malam, Ex-Officio, North West Zone of NCAN appealed to government at all levels to give the association a support to ensure the establishment of cashew orchards across the country improved the production of cashew in Nigeria.
He appealed to the Bank of Agriculture and Industry to support cashew farmers with resources for the establishment of orchards and processing plants for the fruits and nuts.