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Nigeria to grow more cashews for export to boost economy

The Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Mr Olusegun Awolowo, spoke in Abuja on Wednesday at a round table and exhibition on the export competency development programme.

“The recent recession was due to a 30 to 40 billion dollars annual deficit in Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings.

“Nigeria must replace these lost export revenues in order to sustain economic growth, stabilise the naira, sustain federal and state government income and boost employment,’’ he said.

Awolowo said the council’s goal was to grow Nigeria’s non-oil export revenues from 1.5 trillion naira per annum to five trillion naira within three to four years and more than 10 trillion naira over the longer term.

He said the council was collaborating with Centre for the Development of Imports (CBI) to stimulate Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in low and middle-income countries to gain access to the European market.

Awolowo said the CBI Export Competency Development Programme (ECD) was also to offer SMEs the capacity to add value to their products to attract higher margins and ability for their supplies to be more in line with European demand.

According to him, adding value to raw materials not only creates higher margins but also generates more income and jobs.
He said that the collaboration started in 2016 after identifying three sectors – cocoa, cashew and sesame – as those with immense potential in the European market.

Awolowo said that export outlook in 2017 showed some positive developments.

“In cashew for example, a lot of cashew plantations with jumbo varieties are springing up.

“From a raw cashew production of about 150,000 tonnes, 15,000 tonnes are processed in Nigeria which is just 10 per cent.

“In 2016 to 2017 a tonne of raw cashew nut sold at a maximum of 1,800 dollars while cashew kernels WW 320 sold between nine dollars and 10 dollars per pound which is up to 22 dollars per kilo,’’ he said.

Awolowo who also commended the efforts of the Netherlands Embassy in ensuring the collaboration between the NEPC and the Center for the Development of Import (CBI), “the objective of our collaboration with the CBI is to introduce the Export Competency Development Programme in Nigeria just as it is done for other developing economies. Such efforts contributed in launching a wide arrays of products produced by SMEs in developing countries into the EU market”.

He explained that for the Council to arrive at the agricultural products that had the highest potential for export, “the market analysis tools of the international Trade Center (ITC) was employed before arriving at these 3 products (Sesame, Cocoa and Cashew) sectors out of several other”.

“Specific groups of particular companies in three product sectors were selected and audited. The purpose of course, is to find out companies' strengths and weaknesses which were later used to develop an Action plan for each of the companies. This is then followed by rigorous training and coaching seasons” he noted.

Awolowo said “the whole purpose of the programme is to build the capacity of SMEs in Nigeria and connect them with businesses in the European food industry. The huge demand in Europe for food ingredients offers a big opportunity for Nigerian SMEs in the food industry. 

The CBI Export Competency Development Programme is design to offer SMEs that needed capacity to add value to their products to attract higher margins and for their supplies to be more in line with European demands”.

While explaining the importance of Export Competency Programmes by the CBI in collaboration with NEPC, one of the coaches, James Fitzpatrick, stated that Nigerian selected agricultural products currently have the capacity of generating $300 million to the country’s foreign reserve if properly harnessed.

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