The Federal Government said its several incentives in the Cashew Production sub-sector are deliberate efforts to encourage value addition to create jobs and generate foreign exchange while also discouraging raw export of he commodity.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo stated this during the 16th edition of the Annual Conference of the African Cashew Alliance in Abuja.

Adebayo who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr. Evelyn Ngige stated that apart from exemption from Value Added Tax, companies involved in cashew processing enjoy income tax relief for three years which can be extended to 5years.

Ngige said other incentives includes Zero per cent (0%) duty on all Agro-alled machines and equipment acquired for the production of cashew; Capital allowances are granted 100% to companies involved in cashew production and processing Companies involved in cashew production and processing are exempted from value-added tax; Agro-allied plant and equipment for cashew enjoy enhanced capital
allowance of up to 50% amongst others.

She further stated that the current administration is making frantic efforts at increasing by 100 per cent, the annual production of cashew nuts

“As of today, Nigeria produces about 260,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts annually. Plans are ongoing to raise the annual production capacity of cashew nuts to well over 500,000 metric tonnes. Out of the current production figure of 260,000 metric tonnes, 180.000 metric tonnes are traded as raw cashew nuts. 15,000 metric tonnes are processed into cashew kernels and about 10,000 metric tonnes of the kernel are exported.

“Presently, Nigeria has 15 active processing plants with an estimated capacity of 55, 750 metric tonnes and 8 inactive plants with an estimated capacity of 8,500 metric tonnes. New investments are being planned for the development of 6 new plants, with an estimated capacity of 23,910 metric tonnes. This effort is expected to provide over a million direct and indirect employments for the teeming youths,” she said.

The Minister further lamented the continuous shortchange of Africa due to the inability to add value to the commodity before exchange to other countries.

He enjoined the alliance to change the narratives by adding value through production as opposed to raw export of the primary commodity.

“while Africa has remained at the forefront of the production of cashew nuts globally, the benefits accruing from the commodity have continued to elude the continent. This is so because more than half of what is produced is exported in its primary form with no value addition. If this narrative does not change. African cashew-producing countries will continue to enjoy the least economic benefit from the commodity.

“I therefore expect that the African Cashew Alliance will continue to advance policies and strategies that will help strengthen efforts towards processing a larger portion of the commodity produced on the African continent before being exported. I am confident that with this year’s theme “Strengthening Sustainable Kernel and By-Products’ Marketing in the Africa Cashew Industry”, the African Cashew Alliance will take the processing of cashew nuts on the African continent more seriously,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the President, African Cashew Alliance, Otunba Babatola Faseru emphasized the need to value addition to cashew nuts processing in order to gain the appropriate foreign exchange aside providing jobs for the teeming employed youths.

“We are looking at changing the narrative so that cashew nut processing can play a major role in providing employment to the people. This will also help to stop the export of jobs to other countries and drive industrialisation,” Faseru said.

Ten (10) out of 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory are the major producers of Cashew nuts. They are Kogi, Abia, Enugu, Kwara, Oyo, Niger, Imo. Kaduna and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, producing 730, 000 metric tonnes while the global demand is estimated to be 4,500,000 metric tonnes.