Nigeria exported cashew nut valued at N292.7 billion ($813.05 million) in the last three years to United States, Vietnam, India, Brazil and Europe.
The nuts are being used as versatile industrial raw material for phenolic resins, friction powder for the automotive industry and wine.
Also, poor handling of cashew production and defective export packaging processes have made Nigeria to be losing N177 billion ($491.6 million) yearly since 2012.
It was learnt that the country exported 175,000 metric tons of the nut in 2016 and 220,000 metric tons in 2017.
According to the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), 240,000 tons of nuts had been projected for 2018.
The association noted that the country would realise about N146.8 billion ($480 million) at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s exchange rate of N305.80 to a dollar from exporting the produce in 2018.
The President of NCAN, Tola Fasheru, noted that the farmers were targeting $3 billion earnings yearly to match Vietnamese counterparts in cashew production as CBN had decided to support the exporters through its Export Stimulation Fund (ESF).
He said in Abuja that the fund would enable exporters to acquire processing plants and technology, which would enable them to earn N1.08 trillion ($3 billion) income annually in the global market.
Also, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development had provided three million seedlings to assist cashew farmers this year.
The president explained that cashew farmers in the country earned $152 million in 2015; $259 million in 2016 and $402.05 million in 20
Nigeria produced 220,000 metric tons of cashew nuts out of World’s total of 2.1 million tons in 2017 and exported 120,000 metric tons in the same year.
Meanwhile, Managing Director, RiB Cashew Company, Mr Adejoh Stephen, had said in Abuja that government’s liberalisation policy on commodity crops had impacted significantly on the prices and demand for raw cashew nuts in the recent past.
However, Adejoh said that Nigeria offered one of the cheapest sources of raw cashew nuts.
According to him, Nigerian nuts had consistently served the Indian and Vietnamese cashew factories and in recent years have added to the Brazilian market.
He urged companies involved in local processing of cashew nuts to take advantage of the international market to earn more foreign exchange.
The managing director, who said that Nigeria was the world’s sixth largest producer of cashew, explained that 75 to 80 per cent of cashew nuts produced in the country were exported.
Stephen added that the country could earn much more foreign currency if manufactured cashew products were exported, noting that this was a great opportunity for both public and private companies to come on board.
It would be recalled that Fasheru had said that Nigerian cashew brand was presently gaining popularity and referred to as the best at the international market.
He said that cashew nuts imported by Vietnam from Nigeria were not processed, but when processed, the Vietnamese traders earned a huge trade surplus of $1.85 billion because Nigerian exporters lacked technology to process their nuts before they are exported.
Last year, it was gathered that Vietnam sold a ton of processed cashew nuts for $10,000 at the international market, while Nigerian traders earned only $1,200 per ton.