Governor of Enugu State, Dr Peter Mbah, has flagged off the 2024 National Cashew Day and Cashew Season, assuring boost in the industry in order to make the state the hub of cashew production in Nigeria.
The Governor, who was represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Agro-Industrialization, Hon Patrick Ubru, officially flagged-off the 2024 cashew trading season at an event organised by the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), in Enugu, on Wednesday, stressing that Enugu State is known as a land for cashew production in the country.
Speaking on the theme, “Transforming Nigeria cashew industry through Technology, Innovation and Inclusive policies”, Governor Mbah commended the leadership of NCAN for choosing Enugu State for this year’s event noting that the state has played a central role in the production of cashew in Nigeria over the years.
He recounted how the national production of cashew went down from splendour in the early 1960s to a distant 14th position on the rung of the ladder, far behind neighbours like Cote D’Ivoire, Benin and Mali.
Mbah said that agriculture is expected to play a significant part of driving private sector investment due to the endowment of arable lands, favourable climate patterns and also agriculture being a natural occupation of most of majority of the people in the state making cashew one of the focal crops along side cassava, rice, oil palm and variety of spices.
He expressed hope that the event would provide key stakeholders in the industry an opportunity to engage in some deep thinking about strategies required to reignite the dynamism of the industry as quickly as possible.
Mbah reassured of his commitment to continue to work closely with partners and stakeholders such as NCAN and others in making cashew one of the leading foreign exchange earners for the country and a veritable source of livelihood for the state.
Earlier, in a key note address presented by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt Hon. Tajudeen Abbas who was represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Dr Adeyemi Akinyemi, commended the governor for enacting policies since assumption of office which directed at the revamping of agriculture and making Enugu a productive state.
According to the Speaker, Nigeria currently ranks 6th largest producer of cashew, with an annual production of 120,000 tonnes and a trade value of ₦24 billion.
He stated that the market projection for 2030 by the Nigerian Export Promotion Council is that Nigeria will reach 300,000 metric tonnes of cashew production, solidifying the country’s place on the global stage with rapid growth in cashew kernel exports, predominantly to the USA. These, he said, were accomplished despite the traditional farming methods, insisting on possibilities of remarkable improvement through innovative technology backed up by legislation that safeguards the sector.
The President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Dr Ojo Joseph Ajanaku, who gave an overview of the history and roles of the Association said its vision is to make the country’s cashew industry the most reliable and credible supplier and exporter of high quality cashew products in a sustainable manner.
He said that Enugu was choosen because of the large cashew production commenced under under the Micheal Okpara administration in the defunct Eastern Region, adding that although the purpose then was primarily targeted at erosion control, unlike now that it has become of high economic value.
The high point of the event was when Governor Mbah was presented the Best Achiever Award in recognition of his contributions towards agricultural development, food security, and economic advancement by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Also in attendance were the representative of the Governor of Abia State, representative of the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, representative of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Commissioner of Agriculture Edo State, donor partners such as GIZ and NEXIM.