Federal government’s efforts to improve earnings from commodity exports received a boost as the Executive Director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) Olusegun Awolowo charged Valency Cashew Processing Limited to sustain its production capacity and focus more on value-addition for the product.
This advice,a statement obtained from NEPC said was given on Monday when the Management team of NEPC led by Awolowo, paid the company a facility visit with the aim to identify areas of intervention on ways to develop and promote cashew – a major export product of the Commodity Export Company located at Ibafo, Ogun State. Awolowo urged the Management of Valency Limited to, amongst other things, support the growth of commodity exports by ramping up production of cashew.
“In view of the urgent need to scale up both production and processing of cashew for exports in order to earn more foreign exchange for the country, I implore you (Valency Cashew Processing Limited) to pay attention to quality standard and value-addition of cashew for exports,because the commodity commands a global export value of over $4.5billion annually, which Nigeria should aim to grab a fair market share.
As at 2015, Nigeria produced a mere 160, 000MT of cashew worth $253million for exports. And currently the larger quantity of the said production capacity is Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) whereas processing even 50% of same volume will create about 9, 000 jobs plus a chain of economic multiplier effects”.
Awolowo explained that cashew is one of the 13 National Strategic Export Products chosen by Federal Government under Category B of Zero Oil Plan – one of the strategies highlighted in the recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to emancipate Nigeria from dependence on single commodity (oil) for survival. The NEPC boss promised to continue to support cashew processors under National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) in creating enabling environment for the product to thrive. This will be achieved through embarking of programmes to develop and increase productive capacities of stakeholders.
One of such hand-holding engagement is the NEPC/USAID-NEXTT capacity building project to improve competitiveness in the cashew value chain. Also, NEPC the statement explained would lead Cashew Processors to World Cashew Convention in Singapore later this year to expose stakeholders to new technologies which would result in increased value addition, inclusive growth and job creation. He expressed confidence that some degree of palliation will come the way of exporters when implementation of the new Export Expansion Grant scheme commences. Meanwhile,Basba-Nand Balodi,the Managing Director of Valency Cashew Processing Limited while thanking NEPC for the visit lamented lack of funds for acquisition of modern processing machines, inadequate export incentives and the dearth of infrastructure particularly power and roads which ultimately increases cost of doing business, making their product less competitive. The MD acknowledged NEPC’s role in bolstering the non-oil export economic sector through continuous engagements and interventions on proactive programmes that will usher best practices and promote the ease of doing business. Balodi called for the creation of a Governing Council for Cashew sector under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.