Nigerian cashew processors are operating below 30 per cent of their combined installed capacity of 48,000 tonnes, according to an official of the umbrella association for the crop. Mr Sotonye Anga, the National Publicity Secretary of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He attributed this to high cost of procuring raw cashew nuts, among other factors. The scribe said that the cost of cashew nuts now selling at between N170,000 to N200,000 per ton, has added to the problem of job loss and closing down of some processing plants. “In the 2015 cashew season alone, many cashew processors in Nigeria operated below 30 per cent of a combined installed capacity of 48,000 tonnes due to high cost of raw nuts.
“Selling at between N170,000 and N200,000 per ton, high cost of doing business and zero incentive, all these put together led to massive job losses and cashew factory shutdowns in the country. Cashew processors, at the moment, are endangered and there is need to protect and strengthen them,” Anga said. He remarked that the sub-sector needed government’s support that would encourage competitiveness among the cashew processors.
According to him, cashew processors are demanding N50,960 ($260) per ton investment incentive to strengthen the sub-sector in Nigeria. “Strengthening cashew processing in Nigeria is a step that will contribute to the nation’s economic development. We call on the Nigerian Government to approve an investment incentive of $260 per ton for cashew processing in Nigeria. We need to understand that cashew farmers need guaranteed markets to remain in business.
“Whenever a cashew processor processes a metric ton of raw cashew, it translates to over 200 jobs. In Nigeria, more than 70 per cent of workers in cashew processing facilities are women, who are trained to de-shell the cashew. They also delicately peel and pack the cashew kernels and get them ready for the export markets,” he said. According to him, the country presently has seven cashew processing plants.
These are Olam, Foodpro, Esteema Diamond, Abod success, KD Foods, ACET Nigeria and Valency and they are members of the NCAN. He added that the association had privately invested N12 billion into cashew processing in Kwara, Kaduna, Ogun and Lagos. Anga said that cashew processors were selling to the same markets, hence the need for government to protect cashew processors. “There is need for the government to protect cashew processors and make them better competitors globally.
“Irrespective of where you process your cashew from, we all sell under the same price regime and to the same markets in United Kingdom, Netherlands and Germany. “United States of America, Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirate, Saudi Arabia, Japan, and most recently China. So, the countries that offer the best investment incentives, to cashew processors, rule in the cashew world,” he said. The secretary told NAN that Nigeria was presently producing 144,000 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts.
“This mean that available raw nuts for cashew processors still has one of the highest processing cost at N101,920 ($520) per ton. This is without investment incentives from the government. The government of Mozambique gives N24,696 ($126) per ton investment incentive for cashew processing while India gives N16,268 ($83) per ton.
“This brings cost of processing cashew to N52,528 ($268) per ton in Mozambique, N49,784 ($254) per ton in India and N42,532 ($217) per ton in Vietnam,” Anga said. He, therefore, appealed for government’s support and intervention in cashew processing in order to attract more investors.