Founder Hastom Nigeria, an agricultural firm based in Ogbomoso, Oyo State, Depo Thomas, is a successful cashew nut farmer. He does not only growing the crop, but also a promoter of cashew nuts. His dream is for Nigeria to become one of the leading cashew nut producers.
Thomas has over 1,100 acres earmarked for cashew production. But his target is 10,000 acres. Last year, he planted 80,000 trees. Thomas, also a cattle farmer, was motivated to go into farming, when he identified an opportunity in the supply chain of cashew nuts.
Today, he has achieved so much. He is a model farmer and also an inspiration to many cashew farmers.
At present, the capacity of smallholder producers to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the cashew market is of his utmost concern.
He said cashew nuts should receive the desired attention like other crops from the government.
Generally, the global demand for cashew is growing.This year, analysts expect cashew to take over 29 per cent of the global nut market. As cheering as the news might be, South Korea-based Tridge Market Intelligence’s report expressed fear that producers would not be able to meet world demand.
At present, Europe is the largest importer of cashew kernels in the world, accouting for about 40 per cent global imports.
The Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) noted that between 2015 and 2019, European imports of cashew nuts grew yearly by seven per cent.
While India and other Asian producers are dominating the competitive global cashew market, the President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Mr Ojo Ajanaku, is determined to see Nigeria increase its 120,000 metric tonnes yearly prodction to take a sizable portion of the world’s 2.2 million tonnes.
“Nigeria is the sixth largest producer of cashew in the world with an annual production of about 120,000 tonnes and a total annual trade worth of N24 billion,” Ajanaku said.
He told The Nation that the association is targeting 500,000 metric tonnes yearly.
The cashew value chain, he continued, offers an important potential for employment and wealth creation, and the empowerment of women and youth.
To this end, the association is exploring various partnerships to boost the growth of the sub-sector.
One such innovative approach, he stressed, relates to the establishment of linkages among farmers, producers and markets.
In collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investments, Ajanaku said the association has established programmes on cashew production. These include the massive distribution of high-yielding planting materials to farmers in expansion areas and conduct research, development and extension activities focused on the improvement of management practices.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development gave us seedlings, which we distributed to farmers nationwide. They were encouraged. We brought in philanthropists who were once agriculturists, but divert to other businesses to support the farmers.
“During the workshops we held for farmers, the philanthropists gave farmers some stipends. Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN) and private sector were involved in the training,” Ajanaku said
The workshop focused on value-added products from cashew nuts, packaging requirements, cashew apple juice, regulatory and safety issues.
For him, though cashew presents an opportunity for the government to diversify the economy. However, to realise its potential, Ajanaku stressed that farmers must learn to process and add value to raw cashew nuts.
He noted that there was relatively insignificant value-adding activities to the cashew nuts in most production areas.
On the other hand, he said the potential of the cashew apple was taken for granted by farmers.
The apple juice, he added, could be processed into high valued products such as wines, vinegar, beverages or syrup, jams and candies, juice and juice blends.
For farmers to make money, the association is encouraging them to cultivate trees for the nuts and its pseudo fruit – the cashew apple. Both the nut and apple, he emphasised, have economic value as food and for industrial use.
The NCAN national president urged cashew farmers to be serious with cashew business to get cash from cashew.