The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development says it will harness the cashew value chain to generate over 500,000 jobs for unemployed youths across the country.
Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, gave the assurance at the national cashew stakeholders meeting and farmers’ field day on Friday in Zaria.
Mu’azu, represented by Mr Bernand Chukwuemeka, a Deputy Director in the ministry, said that cashew was one of the top priority commodities being promoted by the ministry.
He said that the promotion of cashew production was due to the commodity’s enormous potentials for employment generation for youths and foreign exchange earnings.
Muazu said that Nigeria’s current output in cashew production was 175,000 tonnes on 150,000 hectares, with an average yield of 350 kilogrammes per hectare, against the global average yield of 1,230 kilogrammes per hectare.
“Increasing Nigeria’s raw cashew nuts production of 175,000 metric tons by 20 per cent will give rise to more than 500,000 new jobs and generate 10 million dollars in additional income,’’ he said.
Earlier, Dr Ibiremo Samuel, Director, Cashew Research Department, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), said that the institute had a mandate for genetic improvement of cashew in Nigeria.
Samuel said that the institute had developed high-yielding and early bearing cashew varieties, as well as protocols for the prevention of cashew pest and diseases.
He said that the value addition department of the institute had also developed cashew juice, while facilitating the training of women and youths in juice and wine making from cashew.
Mr Ojo Ajanaku, President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN), advised participants to brainstorm and come out with an appropriate blueprint for the National Cashew Development Masterplan.
Ajanaku, represented by Mr Stephen Malam, ex-officio executive, North-West Zone, NCAN, also appealed to government at all levels to support the association in efforts to establish cashew orchards across the country.