This is against the backdrop of about 68,000metric tonnes (mt) of Cashew nuts stranded and currently rotting away at the Apapa ports, with another 37,000MT reportedly rejected by the Vietnamese Government due to poor quality.
It was alleged that the presence of multiple layers of middlemen from the farm gate to the international market, coupled with the Apapa traffic contribute in weakening the quality of the produce before getting to the country of destination.
The National Publicity Secretary, Cashew Farmers Association and Processors of Nigeria, Yinusa Gabriel, told The Guardian, that as a result, Nigeria is unable to meet their demand, especially for top buyers in Europe, Canada, and America.
He said world’s biggest retail chain, Wal-Mart America, had expressed interest in buying about 160,000mt of Cashew nuts, which Nigeria could not deliver.
“Because of middlemen sharp practices, exporters are shunning Nigerian Cashew, farmers mix fresh cashew nuts with previous years, and by so doing, lowers the quality of the cashew when produced,” he stated.
Yinusa said the offtakers have tried to fashion out ways of exporting the produce through the Idah Port to Onitsha and then to the Atlantic Ocean, as the international buyers were willing to bring their ships to move the containers but lack of dredging of the River Niger has made it so shallow that the batches could not pass.
He disclosed that the plan of the Association is to remove the middlemen and directly interface with the international buyers, disclosing that they have been able to get an offtaker, who is setting up a 20,000-tonne processing factory in the country, adding that the plan is to process the cashew on their own before exporting it.
The Association’s scribe also called on the government to come in as a matter of urgency to clear the gridlock at the Apapa port, dredge River Niger so that goods on the water rather the roads, adding that government need to open up other ports to ease exportation of goods.
Also, a cashew farmer, Bala Achimugu, stressed the need for government to set up a marketing board to regulate the price of Cashew at the international market, to put farmers at an advantage while selling their produce.
He equally urged government to utilise the available potential in the cashew industry, to boost the nation’s internally generated revenue, and also enhance job creation efforts.