An overview of cashew industry in Nigeria was reviewed, emphasizing historical antecedents, status and prospects of nut production sector with a view to providing expertise information that may help prospecting investors in decision making in this non-oil sector of the Nigerian economy.
Potential investments in sustainable production of organicic cashew in Nigeria, processing of cashew nuts as well as cashew apple into juice and wine, raw nut exports and product packaging for both international and local markets are highlighted in this article. Recommendations for continued production of such quality nuts and apples of cashew for industrial uses are suggested.It is presumed that the backbone of any successful agroallied industry is hinged on availability of quality raw materials. As Nigeria strive to establish solid democracy as a country and steadily grows her economy, more challenges are emerging and workable strategies are required to address the issues of sustainable economic growth, particularly the non-oil sector. This piece would only focus on stakeholders in rural agricultural sub-sector of Nigerian economy with a view to throwing more light on the spectrum of investments opportunities hidden in this sector. Clearly creating opportunities for those who constitute the majority in agricultural production, cashew should be placed among the country’s list of priorities for development. Notably, cashew growers constitute substantial proportion of stakeholders of agricultural producers because, they spread across 27 states of Nigeria, where 95% of the country’s cashew output is produced, processed, and exported every year.
Cashew is next to cocoa as export crop and a major source of cash income to many smallholder farmers in the central and northern parts of Nigeria(Topper
et al, 2001; CBN, 2005). Like Cocoa. Cotton, Palm produce and Sesame,Cashew provides considerable contributions to Gross Domestic Product, National Income and generation of foreign exchange. Available records suggest that cashew was probably introduced into Nigeria in the 16th
century, the same time it was introduced into other parts of Africa by the Portuguese voyagers (Johnson, 1973). It was reported growing in the wild since introduction until mid 1950s when it attained a commercial crop status with establishment of first set of large plantations in the western and eastern regions of the country then, by their respective regional development corporations. However,commercial strength of cashew was never realized until 1970s with invasion of Indian merchants seeking for raw cashew nuts to meet up the Indian local processing capacity.This far-off development in the continent of Asia arouse the awareness of both the farmers and government, which led to establishment of new plantings on the part of farmers and enactment of law for the systemic research on cashew production in 1971 by federal government of Nigeria. Now, cashew is a big produce business not only in Nigeria, but also in the African continent as a whole. Shomari (1988) opined that cashew industry provides employment for about 5 millions people especially rural women in major producing African countries
Nigeria is the 2nd world producer of cashew nut and blessed with seven diverse agro-ecologies, however, cashew can only be economically cultivated in woodland-tall-grass savanna and rainforest ecologies. These cropable lands spread across 27 states of the country. The producing states are grouped into minor and major on the basis of current production level. The minor producing states combine cashew with other major commodity crops like cocoa, oil-palm, rubber and kola in the south and cereals and pulses in thenorth. However, major producing states adopt cashew as main commodity crop withaverage hectarage of about 20,000 ha or more. Less than 20% of available cropable landsare currently being used for both food and cash crop in most of these states (CRIN, 1995,1999 and Topper et al.,2001)This emphasis attempts to draw attentions of all stakeholders in cashew industry to the investment potential of the crop vis-à-vis sustainable agricultural development in Nigerin.