Nigerian exporters are at crossroads over cashew nut’s poor pricing, which has fallen from $3,999 to $900 within six months in Vietnam.
Nigeria has the capacity to produce 300,000 metric tonnes or N551.8billion ($1.19billion) of the nuts annually.
It was learnt that the major buyers flying to West Africa from Vietnam and India had stopped because of cashew glut and coronavirus pandemic.
African Cashew Alliance (ACA) had warned that Africa’s raw cashew exports could fall up to 30 per cent or 400,000 tonnes below 1.2 million tonnes exported in 2020.
Olam International, the world’s leading raw cashew nut trader, had complained the pandemic had reduced consumer demand, which has dampened the market
Findings revealed that Nigeria had been selling the nuts at $2,000 per tonnes before the advent of coronavirus and poor cargo processing in the port.
According to the President of National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), Soni Stephenson Uzoechi, on the average, the country could earn N276 billion ($600 million) from cashew export alone.
However, he noted that when cashew had been processed into cashew kernel, a tonne of the processed kernel would attract $6,000.
Nigeria, a member of the International Consultative Cashew Council (ICCC), is the fourth largest producer of cashew in the world and its major trading partners are the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), Vietnam Cashew Association and Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI).
However, Vietnam in 2020 reduced processing capacity following the coronavirus outbreak in China, which has led to its absence from Ivory Coast, Benin, Nigeria and Ghana raw cashew nuts markets.
The President of the Karnataka Cashew Manufacturers’ Association, Subraya Pai, said that with Vietnam bringing down prices, there was larger disparity in the international market.
It would be recalled that in 2017, the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) said that farmers in the country earned N123billion ($402 million) from the export of the nut.
It added that between 2015 and 2017, exporters in the country earned N284.5billion ($813.05million) in foreign exchange from the exportation of cashew.
In 2020, the Chief Executive Officer, Seacos Nigeria Limited, Ojo Ajanaku, said they were expecting a favourable price and were optimistic that they would earn more from cashew nuts.
He explained that farmers were very optimistic that crop production would surpass that of this year as many new trees would start producing coupled with the early fruiting of most trees in key producing states.
In 2019, the delay in cargo processing affected exporters’ 260,000 tonnes of cashew at the nation seaports.
It was gathered that the shipments of 50,000 tonnes of the nuts for Vietnamese markets were trapped at Lagos Port due to inefficiency in April 2019 as some containerised nuts, which arrived the seaports for export in the first quarter of the year, were delayed by Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) and other security agencies.
Other challenges facing the exporters include lack of machine and equipment, poor handling, pilferage and defective packaging of the nuts.
Meanwhile, Nigeria Cashew Exporters Association (NCEA) explained that the roads to Lagos ports were partly responsible for the challenges faced by exporters in 2019.
The association noted that stifling red tape, lack of synergy among the port operators and corruption hampered export processes.
It stressed that some cashew exporters had defaulted to supply foreign buyers because of the challenges.
It noted: “They are no longer willing to give us fresh contracts. The delay is likely to affect the output target of 260,000 tonnes for the current season.”