Stakeholders in the cashew sub-sector have raised concerns that the continued rejection of Nigerian cashews on the international market, primarily due to quality issues, has been blamed on the breakdown of the product’s value chain. This was discussed in Lagos during the National Cashew Consultative Meeting (NCCM) organised by the National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN). This change has led to a loss of revenue for the nation and stained its reputation due to the persistent rejections at the international level. They revealed that this is mainly attributable to the actions of exporters, especially foreigners who have taken to shut down farm gates to purchase goods from farmers in an unregulated way.
Adeyemi Folasole Adeniji, managing director of Starlink Global Limited, estimated that the industry could contribute more than $15 billion to the economy but lamented that Nigerians are shouldering the cost of the disruption despite the fact that goods are being exported, the resulting revenue is not being returned in the country. He explained that non-Nigerian players also contribute to the value chain disruption but that foreigners are more to blame than Nigerian exporters. There is a value chain, and in order to participate, exporters need to be located in Lagos or another city close to a port, such as Port Harcourt, Calabar or others.
The industry will flourish if its players adhere to the rules.
They have licensed purchasing agents, there are the farmers, and there are others who sit between the agents and the authorised buyers. These people have valid places in the value chain from which they should not be detached. However, today, those exporters have bypassed that system and instead settled down on farms. This means that farmers are rushing to get their goods to market, which often results in poor work and substandard products. However, they aim to prevent the negative publicity that results from international rejection of Nigeria’s low-quality exports. Adeniji argues that the industry will flourish, quality will rise, and the country’s reputation will improve if its participants adhere to the rules and the full value chain.
Also, those involved do import the product from Nigeria and then travel to either Niger or Cotonou, Benin, in order to secure a certificate of origin and export it. As a result, the money doesn’t return to Nigeria. People in the country are now suffering because the country is exporting goods but not receiving adequate compensation for them due to the country’s foreign exchange (Forex) problems. When the crop is processed further, the country can make more than $15 billion. Vietnam has been processing cashews since 1992 and is now the world leader in this industry. More than 75% of the world’s cashews are grown in Africa. Adeniji said that since Nigeria is a signatory to the Africa Free Trade Agreement, the export of the product from Nigeria would be beneficial to the country’s economy.
Products exported from the country under a false name will be seized.
According to Dr. Ojo Joseph Ajanaku, National President of NCAN, the meeting was called to promote the industry and to get a comprehensive view of the regulation on the ground and ways to enforce it. He added the government is looking out for the people’s best interests, but if the problem of value chain disruption and other difficulties aren’t solved, farmers will keep losing money to foreign competitors. They came here to do business. Making as much money as possible is, of course, the goal of any business owner. These foreigners work with a select group of Nigerians to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and then use those loopholes to accomplish their other goals.
Goods continue to leave ports because they get their way no matter what. Therefore, they have been able to narrow down members of their association and provide them with the necessary information. Now, it cannot be exported from the country, even under a false name, and any such containers will be seized. Ajanaku is optimistic that, like Vietnam, Nigeria will soon be importing raw cashews to process. Since Nigeria is a wealthy country, it can afford to put a lot of money into any industry that promises a good return. Nigeria is seeing a surge in the number of factories that work with cashew nuts; the smallest of these will handle 15,000 metric tons per year.
Foreigners must be prohibited from entering the farm gates.
Lastly, Tola Faseru, the President of the Africa Cashew Alliance (ACA), who was represented by the Senior Manager of Colossus Industry, Ben Eduviere, stated in his remarks that it is essential to prohibit foreigners from entering the farm gates in order to guarantee the high quality of the produce. It is of the utmost importance to urgently address this problem right now because Nigerians are getting cut off from the value chain as a result of foreigners buying straight from the farmers. This means that the foreigners are denying opportunities to Nigerians as a result of their invasion of the farm gates.