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 in the country.
Dr Abdulkadir Mu’azu, Permanent Secretary of the ministry stated this during the two-day national cashew stakeholders meeting and farmers’ field day on Friday in Zaria.
Mu’azu, represented by Mr Bernand Chukwuemeka, Deputy Director, Federal Department of Agriculture said cashew was among the top priority commodities being promoted by the ministry.
He said that the promotion of cashew by the ministry was due to the commodity’s enormous potentials for employment generation for youths and foreign exchange earnings.
Muazu said Nigeria’s current output is 175,000 metric tonnes on150,000 hectares with an average yield of 350 kilograms per hectare, against the global average yield of 1,230 kilograms per hectare.
“Increasing Nigeria’s raw cashew nuts production of between 175,000 metric tonnes by 20 per cent will give rise to more than 500,000 new jobs and 10 million dollars additional income,’’ he said..
Earlier, Dr Ibiremo Samuel, Director, Cashew Research Department, Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria said the institute has a mandate for genetic improvement of cashew in Nigeria.
Samuel said the institute had developed high yielding and early bearing cashew varieties, as well as protocols to prevent pest and diseases for cashew.
He said the value addition department of the institute had also developed cashew juice, and other protocol of training women and youths on juice and wine making from cashew.
Mr Ojo Ajanaku, President, National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) advised participants to brainstorm and come out with appropriate blueprint for the National Cashew Masterplan.
Ajanaku, represented by Mr Stephen Malam, ex-officio, North-West Zone of NCAN appealed to government at all levels to support the association in ensuring establishment of cashew orchards across the country. (NAN)