Nigeria is to hold the first national cashew interactive conference aimed at analysing the recent market dynamics and to unlock a N50 billion annual investment opportunity, Mr. Godwin Ochaga, Managing Director, HomeNa Agribusiness Consulting Ltd, has said.

Ochaga told newsmen in Abuja that the three-day conference would also examine the role of both public and private stakeholders in addressing emerging issues in the sector.

“There is a need to harness the huge investment opportunities and value chain in cashew production, in view of efforts by the Federal Government to diversify the economy from oil.

“The conference will bring investors and cashew farmers to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will attract a N50 billion annual investment in cashew production, consumption and sale.

“Participants at the conference will deliberate on the strategic roadmap for commercialising cashew production in Nigeria and its impact on national development and entrepreneurship,” he said.

The managing director said that the conference, earlier slated for Sept. 25 to Sept. 27, had been shifted to a later date in view of requests by stakeholders to widen its scope so as to capture more inputs.

“The new date will be communicated to members of the public,” he said, adding that the conference would follow-up on the Presidential Enabling Business Environment and the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), Financing for Development.

“The farmers and off-takers requested the HomNa Agribusiness Consulting Ltd to organise the meeting at the highest level.

“The conference will consist of interactive roundtable among stakeholders and representatives of government ministries, agencies, extra ministerial departments, civil society organisations, private sector, World Bank and other international development partners.

“It will produce an outcome document, and draft, which will be made available to stakeholders,” he explained.

Ochaga added that the conference would address the role of government financing agencies and development partners in the ongoing national discussion on reforming and strengthening the agricultural credit system.

He further said that the contributions of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria(SON) and certification agencies in response to branding and labeling of cashew products for export would be discussed.

“Immediate and longtime impact of cashew investment, with regard to employment, trade, value chain development, and entrepreneurship, among other things, will be the focal points of the conference.`

`We expect the confab to amplify voices of the majority of farmers, rich, poor and middle-income earners, to clarify global thinking on the most far-reaching 21st-century challenges,” he said.

Ochaga said that HomNa had held a number of timely interactive debates and consultations on the issues, to provide inputs into the conference.

“The interactive debates have served to develop a shared view of the scale, scope, and impact of the problems, to assess resource requirements and mobilisation, and to review institutional roles and relationships among financing agencies and development partners in Nigeria.”

The managing director said that the conference would have in attendance, agricultural experts from within and outside the country.

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