By Yinka Kolawole, with agency report

CASHEW farmers   in Nigeria are working on a four-year plan to earn $650 million annual income from cashew exports.

The country earned $253 million in 2015 and to achieve their new target, the farmers intend to cultivate more land and boost exports to about 500,000 metric tonnes a year to raise annual earnings to $650 million.

Tola Fasheru, President of the Nigerian Cashew Association, told Bloomberg in an interview, that with about 160,000 hectares (395,000 acres) of land producing about 150,000 tonnes a year, farmers are seeking to bring an additional 340,000 hectares into cultivation to achieve industry targets. This, according to him, should raise annual export income from the product to at least $650 million from the $253 million earned in 2015.

Nigeria exports more than 80 percent of its cashew output, mostly as raw kernels, with about 60 percent of last year’s shipments going to Vietnam, according to the cashew association. “Virtually all the states in the country have the potential to grow cashew. Our sights are even beyond the 2020 target as they seek to make cashew one of the country’s biggest exports,” Fasheru said.

Cashew is among 13 products identified by the Buhari administration under its national strategic plan to expand agricultural export income and end economic woes that made 2016 the first year of growth contraction since 1991 following the collapse of the price of oil, the country’s main export. Nigeria is Africa’s sixth-biggest producer, ranked behind Ivory Coast, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Mozambique, according to the association. An output of 500,000 tonnes would make Nigeria Africa’s second-biggest producer.

Global demand for cashew nuts has surged 53 percent since 2010, outstripping production in at least four of the past seven years, according to the Reus, Spain-based International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.

India is the leading producer with 1.73 million tonnes of kernels in the 2015-16 season, followed by Ivory Coast with 1.7 million tonnes and Vietnam with 1.1 million tonnes as global production rose threee percent from previous season to 7.4 million tonnes, according to the council.



Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.