Cashew farmers see higher output, better pricing ahead of 2020 season

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Cashew farmers in the country are optimistic that the 2020 season that has commenced this month will be favourable to them as they expect better pricing and increased production.

The farmers say that expect output to reach about 350,000 metric tons (MT) for 2019/2020 season from 250,000MT recorded in the 2018/2019 season.

“With the reports we have gotten from cashew farmers across, we are sure that our production will be about 350,000MT this season,” said Ojo Ajanaku, chief executive officer, Seacos Nigeria Limited.

“Also, we expect a favourable price this year and we are optimistic that farmers will earn more from cashew this year,” Ajanaku said.

He stated that farmers are very optimistic that 2020 crop production will surpass that of this year as many new trees will start producing coupled with the early fruiting of most trees in key producing states.

Nigeria is rated as the fourth-largest producer of cashew nuts in Africa and sixth in the world, with a 275,000 metric per annum in 2019 and is expected to reach 500,000 metric tons by 2025, according to the National Cashew Association of Nigeria.

Cashew has become a top-notch cash crop in Nigeria and it is one of the focused commodities by the Buhari led government to revamp the Nigerian economy.

Since the Federal Government renewed focus on agriculture, cashew crop has risen in its profile, emerging as one of the top-five exported non-oil commodities.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that Nigeria exported N35.7 billion ($116million) worth of cashew in the first nine months of 2019.

It was exported to the United States, Vietnam, Russia, Germany, Italy and many parts of Europe.

“Our harvest currently has already surpassed what we harvested last year by the period,” Olanrewaju Osifeso, chief executive officer of San-Jose said in a telephone response to questions.

“This is because some of our trees started fruiting this year and the weather condition has been favourable for the crop,” Osifeso said.

Currently, the price for a metric ton of cashew for the current season is yet to be made available as the season will commence at the end of February.

“Last year, the season closed with prices hovering between N350,000 and N210,000,” Osifeso added.

Globally, the oversupply built up in the 2018/2019 season that leads to a downward price trend seems to have been used up as the crop has a positive outlook.

Nigeria’s cashew is usually harvested between February-June, though farmers stock the crop and export it all year round.

It is eaten and also serves as industrial raw materials in firms producing chemicals, paints, varnishes, insecticides and fungicides, electrical conductress, and several types of oil among others.

Apart from helping to maintain a healthy heart and bones, cashew also helps in weight loss.

The crop can be grown in the entire South-West, South-South and South-East region, with Kogi, Oyo, Anambra, Osun and Enugu having the largest production areas.

Farmers and exporters of the crop are targeting to earn at least $350million from export this season.

“If the harvest comes out better this year, giving the fact that the weather condition has been quite good and the harmattan moderate, we expect to earn at least $350million from export this season,” said Tola Faseru, vice president, African Cashew Alliance in a telephone interview.

“We expect a lot of interest from the international market as most of our contracts were cancelled because of the gridlock at the port,” Faseru who is also the chairman of Colossus Investment Limited said.

Faseru said that the Nigerian cashew brand was presently gaining traction and referred to it as one of the best in the international market because of its good flavour that has given it an edge over other countries.

He called on the government to address the Apapa and Tin Can traffic situation as well as the slow clearing processes at the port to facilitate a seamless process in export.

He added that it will enable exporters’ timely meet up with their contractual supply agreements.