The number of cashew processing factories has increased significantly over the past decade.
However, local processing of cashew leaves a lot to be desired, according to the President, African Cashew Alliance, Mr Babatola Faseru. Faseru, who spoke with our correspondent, said the number of cashew factories in Africa as a whole had increased to 50, three times more than the number it was 10 years ago.
He lamented that despite this increase, local processing of the product remained very low, with only between 10 and 15 per cent of cashew processed locally. He blamed the situation on the underutilisation of the processing plants due to a lack of access to reliable sources of funding, lack of proper policies and regulation of the industry in most African countries.
He remarked, however, that even though Nigerian processors were still not globally competitive, recent government policies of the cashew industry appeared favourable for local processors to grow.
According to him, under his leadership, the ACA is collaborating with stakeholders to make local processors in Nigeria and Africa at large globally competitive. “We are working hard and putting measures in place to make the industry very competitive.
The African Cashew Alliance will be organising several fora, training and capacity building programs that will put processors in Nigeria and Africa in a better position to compete at the global level,” he said.
He was optimistic that with the right and favourable measures and support, cashew processing in Nigeria would grow and the country will enjoy the enormous benefits of the industry.
“I believe that sustainability of the cashew industry will be guaranteed by our ability to control the market by processing locally. That is the only way we can be competitive. I believe that in years to come, we will be better than we are now,” he added.
Earlier, while speaking at ACA’s Global Market Encounter forum, Faseru applauded Nigerian cashew growers, noting that they had contributed a great deal to the improvement of the quality of cashew nuts in 2021.
According to him, the quality of cashew nuts in Nigeria and Africa generally has seen a great improvement this year, attributing it to the good work by farmers of the crop.
During the forum, which was convened to review the Cashew market in 2021, Faseru said farmers had been particularly meticulous in drying their nuts and in following several other good harvest practices that ensure quality.
“The crops came out quite early and good in terms of quality and that is commendable. The handling of the crops at the farm level is something to cheer about. A good job was done, particularly in the drying of the cashew. You find out that farmers dried nuts to up to about seven per cent this year, improving on quality,” he said.
This, according to him, miti gated the effects ports and logistical challenges would have had on the industry, especially on buyers and exporters this year. “Thank God they (farmers) did that (dried cashew well) because this year we had huge logistics problem in Nigeria; one we have never seen before.
In fact, at a point, the ports authority suspended export for like two weeks so we had a lot of cargos waiting and not able to get into the port terminal,” he said.
He believed if farmers maintained this good work, the fortunes of various stakeholders of the cashew industry in Nigeria, especially farmers, would increase.