The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on Thursday in Abuja, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to increase cashew export earnings from 252 million dollars to 500 million dollars in 2023.
The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak said this at the inauguration of the organic cashew certification programme in Nigeria for export.
The five-year programme between NEPC, Nicert, Valency Limited and PRO-Cashew is designed to accelerate growth in the non-oil export sector by supporting the Nigeria cashew sector.
He said that the initiative would facilitate a gradual shift from conventional cashew to organic ones which export guarantees niche market and premium pricing.
According to Yakusak the aim of the project is to support the Nigeria cashew sector and increase cashew productivity and efficiency, improve crop quality and improve harvest and post -harvest techniques.
While noting that Nigeria exported 315,677 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts worth 252 million dollars, which accounts for 5.24 per cent of Nigeria’s non-oil export portfolio in 2022, Yakusak said there was the need for value-addition.
“In 2022, our non-oil performance export performance indicated that cashew was the 5th leading non–oil exportable product in Nigeria.
“We felt that we need to encourage this product and ensure that the potential from cashew is better harnessed.
“We exported cashew worth about 252 million dollars in 2022 and with the launch of the project we hope to double it this year,’’ Yakusak said.
He, however, expressed concern that the full economic potential inherent in cashew export had not been harnessed, despite the product being 5th leading non-oil exportable product in Nigeria in 2022.
Yakusak said that the initiative would address issues plaguing the Nigeria cashew sector.
According to him, Nigeria’s cashew export trade was largely hampered by non-adherence to food safety standards, lack of traceability, low yield per hectare, poor practices, ageing trees among others.
On her part, Ms Annabel Kamuche, Group Managing Director, Nicert, a private organisation providing international certification for export products, said that Nigeria could reduce reliance on harmful and toxic chemicals by choosing organic farming methods.
Kamuche said that Nigeria could also promote soil health while creating a healthier and more resilient food system.
“As we continue to face challenges related to climate change and environmental degradation, it is critical that we adopt sustainable practices that minimise harm to the planet and support local communities.
“It is thing of pride for Nigeria that it has started making mark in the usage of organic products where apart from cashew, crops like turmeric, honey sesame, soybean, hibiscus are gaining substantial grounds.
“Nicert is confident that in the coming years, Nigeria will be among the front runners in the global organic sector with more value chains participating in organic agriculture,’’ Kamuche said.