The National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) on Wednesday said that Nigeria loses about 50 per cent of its cashew apple produced annually due to lack of processing capacity.
The “cashew apple”, a pseudo-fruit (false fruit) is actually the swollen stalk of the true cashew fruit of Anacardium occidentale (cashew tree) which is fibrous but juicy.
NCAN’s National Publicity Secretary Mr Sotonye Anga said in Lagos that the country produced an average of 1.8 million tonnes of cashew apple annually.
Anga noted that over 900 metric tonnes of cashew apple were wasted, adding that the development had amounted to huge economic loss.
“A huge economic waste. So every year you can imagine over 900 metric tonnes of cashew apple is wasted,’’ he said.
Anga said that cashew apple deteriorated within three days resulting in wastage of the fruits in farms and on the streets.
He called on the Federal Government to support cashew stakeholders in the area of processing infrastructure so as to aid exportation and curb post-harvest losses.
“When you harvest your cashew apple today, if you do not consume it today or tomorrow, by the next day it deteriorates and is wasted, which translates to huge economic loss,” he said. “So, this can be curbed and curbing it simply means that you transform the cashew apple into cashew apple juice.
“It means as a matter of urgency, as a matter of fact, the government needs to support the cashew sector strongly. Support in terms of enabling the sector to migrate from just exporting raw cashew into building processing capacity.
“That will enable it to process cashew nuts into cashew kernel that will be eaten locally.”
“Also, it can be exported because the market for processed cashew kernel is global. We have a population of about 167 million people, meaning a huge market base to consume what we process.
“If we want to go into serious cashew value addition, you have to invest in creating the infrastructure; you have to acquire the technology.’’
He said that cashew processing required a huge investment of between N200 million and N400 million.
Anga said because of this, stakeholders needed a window for long term financing and access to loan with single digit interest rate.
Also commenting, Mr Adebayo Sodiq, Chairman, Oyo State Cashew Farmers Association, said that government could create employment for the youth through cashew processing.
Sodiq said that government should look seriously at processing cashew to beverage that would generate income for cashew farmers.
“Cashew fruit is a revenue generator for any economy and Nigeria produces enough to empower farmers. Government should look into building processing plants for the processing of cashew into beverage. This will create employment and strengthen the economy,’’ he said.