By Wale Ibrahim, Lokoja
Kogi State Government has disclosed that it had taken proactive measures to curtail glut and enhance price of cashew products in 2019 to avert recurrence of the 2018 price crash.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Emmanuel Idenyi, made this known while speaking at the state Partnership for Agriculture (SPA) Core Delivery Team (CDT) meeting organised by Synergos Nigeria in Lokoja.
Idenyi explained that the state government’s decision to delve into the situation was sequel to the crash in the price of cashew products leading to low sales in the current production year.
“We are going to face the issue of adulteration head-on. We shall also forestall migration of merchants to other countries. The state cannot afford to be blacklisted for failing to meet international standard”, he said.
The Permanent Secretary said there was information on influx of adulterated cashew nuts into Kogi from Nasarawa State, adding that though the ministry was not timely informed about the crash, the state government would resist the trend.
“In order for the state not to lose the status of producing the best cashew in Nigeria, by next year, we shall have labeled bags/sacks for our cashew produce and in the process, block Nasarawa produce.”
Idenyi also revealed that about five hectares of land had been cleared in Lokoja for production of maize to boost school feeding programme adding that the effort would be replicated in other parts of the state.
Also, Mr Jeremiah Onugba, Director, Agricultural Services in the Ministry warned that buyers who indulged in buying any grade of cashew nuts for merchants would be blacklisted, stressing that they were not after quality but quantity.
The State Director of Produce,Oyekunle Agbana, throwing more light on the situation, said about 78,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts were graded in the state this year as against 65,000 metric tonnes last year.
Agbana added that, the graded quantity was more than half of what was produced this year, alerting that not less than 40 per cent of this year’s produce was still with farmers in warehouses.
He revealed that what affected quality was that some cashew farmers engaged in “hasty harvesting instead of hand-picking” mature nuts that fell to the ground.
Thomas Agene, CDT Secretary, opined that to reverse the trend, farmers should be sensitised on the need to strive towards attaining quality rather than quantity.