I was going through an interview on a national daily where I stumbled on a statement by Ebrima Faal, African Development Bank Director, Nigeria office. The statement reads “for example, if you take the case of cashew, sometime before the cashew mature, we have Indians coming in to buy all of the cashews even before they are harvested. They buy and take it to India or Vietnam, process it and then sell it back globally to us, sometimes at three/four times the price, but we are saying that, no, we need to process that cashew in Nigeria to consume it locally and then to export it, thereby getting all of the benefits”, In the same interview he also stated that Africa as a whole has a 35 billion dollar import bill which is unacceptable.
These statements left me in shock as I was trying to analyse how much money and resources local farmers and producers are losing, the burden on the consumers who eventually have to purchase these goods at outrageous prices and how it affects our economy on the larger scale.
For those who might not be familiar with the cashew industry in Nigeria I will give a brief on the potentials in the industry
Cashew production in the Nigeria has also been on the increase, with Nigeria producing 160,000 tonnes in 2015, which generated 152 million U.S. dollars (N57.6 billion) in revenue. In 2016, Nigeria exported 185,000 tonnes of cashew nuts and earned 259 million dollars (N93.2 billion). Nigeria has been a leading producer and exporter of cashew products, with the country currently the 6 largest producer of cashew products in the world. Currently, over 300,000 hectares of land in Nigeria are used in the plantation of just cashew, there are over 500,000 hectares of unused land readily available for cultivation. Cashew tree is also one of the longest producing fruit tress which continues to yield produce for about thirty years and can as serve as long term investments as the proceeds will continue to span across the life span of the tree. With all these it’s safe to say the potentials in the cashew industry will be unprecedented is properly harnessed.
Going back to the interview of Ebrima Faal, he concluded his interview with a call which I find very commendable. He said “So we are looking at people that are already investing in Nigeria and those that want to invest in Nigeria. We have received from the private sector in Nigeria, from almost every state in the federation, so it is not just the Chinese, but locally we have received a lot of private sector investors, and we also have the states themselves that want to invest in agriculture. On top of that, we also see a lot of interests coming from Europe especially in terms of wanting to invest in the processing side of things. So I think people realize that they can get good returns to their investments in Nigeria while helping us to develop that space as well”
I find this call commendable because I believe when we begin to invest in our local industries there will be more economic activities and the ripple effects will lead to economic growth and development. I also found the investment the AFDB have made very commendable and I will like to call on other investors to begin to look inwards and work towards building local industries to help ease our economic liabilities.