From AMEDU JOSEPH, Lokoja
Following the sharp fall in the cost of the nation’s crude oil in the international market, the Kogi State government has indicated its readiness to collaborate with National Cashew Association of Nigeria(NCAN) on diversification of economy to boost job creation for the unemployed youths and ensure food security across the country.
Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state gave the indication at the flag off ceremony of Cashew Trading Season tagged “Repositioning 2020” held in Lokoja over the weekend.
The governor who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Agriculture, Emmanuel Idenyi described agriculture as the main sream of any nation’s economy saying that “Agric is the only alternative for survival in Nigeria. We have no option than to go back to land under the current economic challenges facing Nigeria”
Bello who assured that his administration would not relent in sustaining its current status of being the highest producer of cashew in Nigeria challenged the stakeholders in cashew business to ensure high quality of the product for successful sales as well as profit maximization both within and outside the country.
The governor stressed the need for the establishment of processing industries for cashew products across the country as it will earn all states in the federation more revenue than exportation of the product alone.
“As stakeholders in cashew business, all hands must be on deck to compliment government’s efforts in finding lasting solution to the problem of storage and associated diseases ravaging the products. We should also strive to avoid anything that will compromise the value of cashew industry” the governor advised.
Earlier, the National President of the Association, Joseph Ojo Ajanaku said that (NCAN) is an umbrella body of Cashew value chain spread in 24 states of the federation to take care of production, procession and marketing of cashew product.
“Since assumption of office, we are working hard to ensure that there is a data base of cashew growers in Nigeria, increase production, encourage processing and local consumption through sensitisation. We have commenced work on membership data base collection to achieve our goal” Ajanaku disclosed.
He called on the private sector within and in the diaspora to focus more on the establishment of Cashew Processing industries saying that one good standard processing factory is capable of generating one thousand direct jobs for the unemployed citizens such as food vending, transportation among others.
The National President also hinted that foreign buyers of cashew from Nigeria are enjoying the 90% output of raw cashew nuts while 10% goes to Nigerian stakeholders calling for the location of at least three Cashew processing plants in Kogi to relieve government of the pressure of employment and boost revenue.
He however, solicited government support to NACN in setting up of Cashew processing factories, packaging of cashew nuts and import waiver for the importation of jute bags for packaging of cashew processed products as well as sponsoring workshops and training of farmers to limit post harvest losses.
In his remarks, the chairman of Kogi state chapter of the Cashew Association, Duche Isiaka commended Governor Bello’s administration for giving priority to the development of agriculture in general and cashew production in particular and assured of the Union desire compliment where necessary.
High point of the event was the presentation of Merit Award on Governor Yahaya Bello for his feat in the development of agricultural sector in the state as well as issuing certificate of membership to the State Exco by the National president NACN.