Cashew Nut has become an important source of non-oil export earnings in Nigeria generating a revenue of over $250 million in 2022 as disclosed by the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Abubakar Muhammad. In addition to contributing significantly to Nigeria’s total export earnings in the last few years, Cashew nuts rank among the most extensively traded nuts worldwide.
Globally, there’s a high preference for cashew nuts, mainly due to their unique benefits as well as their relatively low cost of transportation. Edible cashew nuts are rich in protein and low in fat. With its impressive nutritional benefits, cashew nuts are not only ideal low-cholesterol snacks but also serve as healthier raw materials for various nut-derived products.
In addition, regular nuts like almonds and peanuts cost more to move from points of production to processing plants in other countries across Europe or America where demand for them exceeds supply.
Nigeria’s Cashew Production and Export Potential
Data from the International Trade Map indicated that Nigeria ranked 7th among the largest cashew nuts exporters globally and 3rd in Africa after Ivory Coast and Ghana. But, the most encouraging part is Nigeria’s cashew nuts export percentage grew to 70.2% at the end of 2021 earning the country a 3rd place position among the fastest-growing cashew nuts exporters globally after Turkey and Burkina Faso.
One of the major contributors to this growth is the government’s establishment of the National Cashew Development Board (NCDB). This department is an arm of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development tasked with promoting sustainable practices in the cashew production and value-addition industry.
The NCDB conducts research, development, and innovation; promotion of value addition through processing as well as linkages with other stakeholders that could help promote value chains within their respective regions/states.
In addition, they facilitate knowledge sharing among stakeholders engaged in this sector such as farmers groups, along with collaborating international organizations such as Food and Agriculture Organization or United Nations Environment Programme who have expertise in agronomy techniques for ensuring better yields.
Sustainable Cashew Nuts Production and Marketing to Nigerians
There is a growing awareness of sustainable practices in cashew nuts production and export in Nigeria. The importance of cashew nuts to the Nigerian economy cannot be overstated. Aside from being a major export, it also provides employment, income, and food security to millions of people all over the country every year.
Not only that, cashew nuts are a primary part of many Nigerian diets and food recipes because they are rich in protein and fiber with very few calories. They also contain vitamins B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), and C which help with digestion as well as other essential nutrients such as zinc, iron & magnesium among others.
But as is often the case with cash crop production and export, there are concerns about cashew farming practices and how sustainability can be ensured in the cashew nuts production and transportation processes in Nigeria.
Sustainable cashew nut production entails the adoption of best practices that mitigates the negative environmental impact while ensuring the economic, social, and environmental viability of the industry. The path to achieving this is in empowering farmers to implement sustainability standards in their production processes. This is achievable through education and training programs facilitated by the government through its agencies, NGOs, cashew nut exporters, and other major stakeholders.
Sustainable Practices Cashew Nut Production Practices
Generally, cashew trees are self-sustaining once they reach maturity. A cashew tree can produce fruits for years without external interference. However, farmers can also implement certain measures to increase yield and foster sustainability in cashew farming.
The commonest sustainability practice farmers adopt is intercropping, which involves planting cashew trees alongside other crops such as legumes or vegetables. Intercropping promotes soil fertility, reduces soil erosion, and provides additional income streams for farmers. This practice can also help mitigate the negative impacts of climate change, such as drought and flooding.
In addition, farmers also use organic fertilizers and pest control methods to increase productivity. Chemical fertilizers and pesticides often have negative effects on the environment and human health. Organic fertilizers and pest control methods are more environmentally friendly and can result in higher quality and more nutritious cashew products.
Sustainable Cashew Marketing in Nigeria
While it’s easy to fixate on the production, cashew nut marketing is equally crucial for the growth and development of the industry. And of course, sustainability considerations should also be factored into the marketing endeavors.
Sustainable marketing involves creating value for all stakeholders involved in the cashew value chain, including farmers, processors, traders, and consumers. Sustainable marketing practices can help ensure fair prices, promote transparency, and reduce waste.
Off-takers like Sunbeth Global Concept Limited are championing sustainable cashew nut marketing in Nigeria by serving as a crucial link between small-scale farmers and international markets. We facilitate market access for producers and ensure they get good value for their products.
Cashew farmers predominantly operate in rural communities where they have limited access to markets and restricted bargaining powers. We take the products from farmers, warehouse the stock in our storage facilities, and then supply them to processors in local and international markets.
In addition, the industry has seen increased investment in processing and value addition which increases the desirability of cashew nuts. This is facilitated by the establishment of processing plants that produce cashew kernels, roasted nuts, and other cashew-based products. These investments while improving the value of cashew nuts also create employment opportunities and improve the income and livelihoods of small-scale farmers.
Sustainable cashew nut production and marketing practices are critical for the growth and development of the cashew industry in Nigeria. Thankfully, Nigeria is blessed with a renewable resource of cashew trees that can consistently produce several hundred thousand tonnes of cashew nuts yearly.
The natural cashew production process is sustainable as it does not require large-scale fertilizer inputs and needs very little pesticide or herbicides application. Therefore, it can be carried out by small farmers using traditional methods without any threat to their livelihoods or health.
Nevertheless, the adoption of sustainable practices by farmers, processors, and traders can promote the economic, social, and environmental viability of the industry. Improved access to markets and investments in processing and value addition also contribute to the sector’s growth. With these measures in place, Nigeria can strengthen its position as a leading exporter of cashew nuts in the global market.