The stakeholders in the cashew and cocoa industries have said that Nigeria can scale up the production of cashews and cocoa by putting in place structures that will attract investors to come in just as Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana have done. Cocoa and cashew make up two-third of the country’s leading cash crops in terms of export and foreign earnings. This is indicated according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Hence, cashew and cocoa are two of the major agricultural products in the country.
Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, the two largest producers of cocoa, account for over 60 percent of global cocoa production, according to World Atlas. Meanwhile, Nigeria accounts for 6.5 per cent, according to the Nigerian Export Promotion Council. The data obtained from the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) showed that the top exporters of cocoa beans in 2020 were Cote d’Ivoire ($3.52 billion), Ghana ($1.28 billion), Ecuador ($823 million), Cameroon ($590 million), and Nigeria ($489 million).
African exporters established various structures in cashew industry.
As of 2020/2021, the International Cocoa Organization estimated Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana’s produce at about 2.25 million tons and 1.05 million of cocoa respectively, while Nigeria’s amount is estimated at 290,000 tons of cocoa. According to a report by the World Bank (titled “Cashing in on Cashews in Cote d’Ivoire”), Cote d’Ivoire’s export value of cashew is estimated at $800 million every year. Based on the OEC’s analyses, both Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana ranked as one of the world’s top exporters of fresh or dried cashew nuts in 2019. Their valuation is $804 million and $351 million respectively. In 2020, Cote d’Ivoire’s cashew exports dropped to $708 million while that of Ghana totaled $354 million.
In comparison with that of Nigeria, cashew exports were valued at $246 million and $215 million in 2019 and 2020 respectively. According to the African Cashew Alliance, several cashew-producing African countries have put various structures and institutions in place to regulate the industry. Countries including Cote d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Ghana have all established different regulatory structures for their cashew sectors. Adama Coulibaly, the Director-General of Cote d’Ivoire’s Cashew and Cotton Council noted that the council was a product of an agreement among major cashew actors and stakeholders including the government. Coulibaly said proper regulation and organization of the cashew sector encourages farmers and increase productivity and quality while also ensuring the availability of raw cashew nuts for local processors. This leads to the overall growth of the sector.
Nigerian cocoa will perform better with boards.
The council is thus responsible for organizing and regulating the cashew supply chains in Cote d’Ivoire. It formulates and implements policies and initiatives to ensure the growth of the industry in the country. The Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) is a similar agency which was inaugurated in September 2020. It is now the regulatory body for cashew and five other tree crops in the country. According to the TCDA Act 2019, the body is to regulate and develop the production, processing, trading, and marketing of cashew, mango, shea, coconut, rubber, and palm oil. It is also mandated to conduct research.
The policies that have boosted the exportation of cocoa beans in both countries can be linked to the availability of cocoa boards in the countries. The president of the National Cocoa Farmers Association, Adeola Adegoke, told the press that Nigerian cocoa beans performed better when there were cocoa boards and a lot of regulations in terms of production. He said that the cocoa board was, however, scrapped and the market became an open market where demand and supply determine the price.
Adegoke thinks Nigeria should revert to the old system.
He said, “In Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, there are a lot of sustainability programs and government policies targeting the empowerment of the smallest farmers in terms of good agronomic practices making sure that premium cocoa is produced.” Adegoke thinks Nigeria needs to go back to the old system of creating synergy in all the cocoa production steps, whereby there is a specific designated policy and a special unit that would deal with cocoa farmers’ service like the cocoa development unit in the early days where the problems of farmers are tabled and tackled.