The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on Friday trained no fewer than 100 cashew farmers in Ifon in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State, South-West Nigeria, with a view to produce high quality products in conformity with international standards.
The cashew farmers were trained at a workshop on “Acceptable Practices for Enhanced Produce Yield and Quality.”
Mr Olumide Monehin, the Trade Advisor of NEPC in the state, described export business as the “live wire for economic development of any nation.”
Monehin said that the council had kept no stone unturned to ensure that farmers and other stakeholders were equipped with the required basic knowledge for production of quality agricultural products for export market.
He said that NEPC had decided to reposition the country’s cashew export with the aim of increasing output and ensuring that the commodity met the required internationally acceptable standard for export.
The advisor recalled that the council recently trained 200 cashew farmers in Ikare Akoko in the Northern Senatorial District of the state.
According to him, the council has equally trained over 1,000 cocoa farmers on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for improved quality cocoa production in Ondo and Ekiti states.
“Since the inception of NEPC in Ondo State, we have embarked on series of survey and researches on cashew production.
“And it was discovered that the state is most viable for cashew production with high concentration of small and big farm holders in six local government areas which produce 30,000 to 50,000 metric tons annually.
“Then, there is need to build the capacity of our farmers to produce high quality nuts that will attract premium price in the international market with a view to boosting its export in line with the focus of zero-oil plan of the government,” he stated.
Mrs Francisca Odega of NEPC Southwest Regional office in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, said that the training would enable the farmers to boost Nigeria’s economy with a view to having optimal comparative advantage at best price.
Odega, who tasked the participants to utilize the knowledge they acquired from the resource persons, promised that NEPC would continue to strengthen the non-oil sector.
Mr Dipo Akinseloyin, the Director of Administration in the local council, lauded NEPC for the training, saying that the opportunity offered would be of immense benefits to the farmers and Nigeria at large.
Akinseloyin, therefore, appealed to the participants to make good use of the privilege.
Mrs Jibola Adegboye of Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN), Owena-Ondo, explained to the participants that cashew plantation must pass through different stages for it to meet its targets.
Adegboye said that the farmers should study soil type and consider the type of seed to be planted.
According to her, pest and disease control are very imperative for targeted bountiful harvest.
Adegboye urged the farmers to seek more professional advice from the institute at no cost.
Mr Akintoye Olagbaju, another resource person from Nigeria Stored Products Research Institute, Ilorin, said that the most important thing to the farmers was the end product of their plantation, hence the need to adhere strictly to principles taught at the workshop.
Olagbaju enjoined the participants to strive hard to attain the requirements of international market to achieve maximum profit.
He said that cashew nuts were embraced in the USA and some other developed societies because of their high nutritional value and compositions meant for human health.
According to him, cashew nut agribusiness is a substantial and constant means of income, if properly harnessed.
He tasked the farmers to ensure that stones and other particles thoroughly removed before exporting the product.
One of the farmers, Mrs Titilayo Akinlalu, described the workshop as impactful, saying she would go with the principles taught and she called on government to empower farmers.
Another farmer, Chief Emmanuel Olatunji, also described the workshop as first of its kind in the area, adding that it would actually boost local cashew production to attain international standard.
He enjoined the participants to use the knowledge gained in their cashew farming and also advised them to form a cooperative society towards achieving their common goals.