Former President Olusegun Obasanjo says Nigeria must add value to its cashew nuts by increasing the processing capacity.
Obasanjo said this on the sideline of the16th edition of African Cashew Alliance (ACA) conference on Thursday in Abuja.
The former president said that Nigeria grows a lot of raw cashews but only processes a fraction of them, missing out on a wealth of opportunity offered by booming global demand.
According to him, it is painful and I am sad that only 10 per cent of what we produce that we process.
“So, some people are taking advantage of our own hard labour in production and then they add value to it.
“They get more money from it that we should have gotten if we produce and process and market.
“What we need to do is to enhance, improve, multiply, promote and do everything humanly possible to increase the benefits and advantages that we get from cashew industry,’’ Obasanjo said.
He canvassed for the setting up of a committee saddled with the responsibility to ensure the right policies that would promote production, processing and research activities on cashew.
“We should give ourselves what I call 2030 Committee for policy, for production, for processing, for promotion, and indeed for research.
“This is essential because there is a lot that we can get out of cashew.
“No aspect of cashew from the root to the leaf should be wasted. And that is what research and innovation should be doing,’’ Obasanjo said.
He, however, expressed delight over the cashew conference in Abuja and urged participants to seize the opportunity to make implementable recommendations for the development of the commodity.
On his part, Mr Babatola Faseru, the President of African Cashew Alliance, said Nigeria and Africa must scale up cashew production and ensure value addition.
“As you are aware, Africa is not doing too well in terms of cashew processing.
“Africa produces about 60 per cent of the world production but the value addition is just about 10 per cent.
“That we will change, we want to retain the wealth that is in cashew in Africa because what we find out is that even though we are the leading producer, we own less than 20 per cent of the wealth.
“The bulk of the wealth has been transferred to Asia, Europe and America and that we want to change to see that we process it here and then be able to consume it here.
“And then sell the value added product to other countries like Europe, America and others.
“This will be creating the much needed jobs for our people and increase our revenue in terms of foreign exchange earnings for the economy.
“Right now, we need foreign exchange and cashew is definitely a commodity that we can increase what we are doing.
“Today, even at this level cashew is like the second known foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.
“We can now imagine if we do a lot of value addition, we can actually receive like 10 times of what we are earning today.
“That is the idea and I believe that this conference will trigger a lot of positive energy for the cashew industry,’’ Faseru said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that more than 30 countries are participating in the four-day conference with the theme, “Strengthening Sustainable Kernel and By-Products’ Marketing in the Africa Cashew Industry.”