The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) organized training aimed at exposing agriculture stakeholders in Kwara State to ways of harnessing the potentials in cashew industry as an alternative to oil.
Dr Ernest Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary, FMARD who was represented at the program by a Deputy Director, Mr Bernard Ukattah noted that one of the major constraints of the cashew industry in Nigeria was inadequate processing capacity of our processing plants and equipment.
Cashew as a nut tree found in the tropics is a multipurpose crop which is mainly cultivated for the nuts’ consumption, medicine and source of income for top producing countries of the world. The tree is estimated to live up to 50 to 60 years and it starts bearing fruits within the third and the fifth year.
Value chain is a set of value-adding activities through which products are being transformed from the farmer to the final consumer to give it more economic value and better acceptability in the export market.
The permanent secretary pointed out that the training was to avail the stakeholders to discuss issues to move the industry forward, adding that out of the 170,000 mt of cashew nuts produced in Nigeria, only five percent is processed, while raw cashew nuts are sold to cashew buying agents for export.
”The cashew apple are eaten raw and the rest wasted because of inadequate facilities to processing other cashew derivatives e.g. cashew juice, jam, ice cream etc. This means exporting Nigerian job to other countries and this must stop”.
The Program Manager, Kwara Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), Tunde Salami, boasted that the training will avail the participants on many derivatives from cashew being one of the cash crops that can be reckoned with because nothing is a waste in it.