The Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Zonal Controller, Mr George Enyiekpon, has disclosed that the agency will create no fewer than 344,000 new jobs through the “One State One Product Initiative,’’ at a training workshop on cashew production in Ibadan, Oyo State over the weekend.
The initiative will encourage each state of the federation to specialize in the produce where they have a great advantage and wherewithal to handle.
Enyiekpon who further disclosed that an increase of 20 percent from the current production figure of cashew would create more than 344,000 jobs and generate $75 million additional income for the country, interestingly noted that the cashew sector has the potential of earning $ 2 billion annually in the next five years and capable of engaging the unemployed.
The workshop held in collaboration with the Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with the theme: “ ”Maximising the Potentials of Cashew from the Farm gate to the Market.’’ came against the backdrop of calls for the diversification of the economy and is “aimed at showcasing best practices in the cashew value chain for farmers, agricultural extension agents, processors and exporters”, .Enyiekpon said.
The Zonal Controller said “Cashew is one of the 13 national products chosen by Nigeria to drive the non -oil export sector and Nigeria is the sixth largest producer of raw cashew nut in the world, with the product grown in almost all states in Nigeria’’ .
However, he emphasized that Nigeria’s cashew attracts the lowest price in the global market as a result of some challenges which include low peel ability, poor quality, lack of traceability arising from fragmented value chain and poor skills among workers in the sector.
Enyiekpon expectation is that at the end of the programme, the extension workers will step down the training across the 33 local government areas of Oyo State and ensure that cashew from Oyo State will be of high quality and command premium pricing in the export market.
He reiterated that NEPC desires to see cashew -clusters and centres springing up across the state and providing revenue for the state and the nation as well as jobs for the unemployed, as he revealed that Oyo State was the highest producer of cashew in the country, adding that this informed the choice of the state as well as Lagos and Ogun for the training.
The Oyo State Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Acting Permanent Secretary, Mr Gabriel Kehinde, in his remarks, gave an assurance of government’s readiness to collaborate in exploring the potentials in cashew.
Kehinde, who was represented by Mr Lukman Oladapo, the Zonal Manager, OYSADEP, Ibadan/Ibarapa Zone, urged the participants to make use of the knowledge gained at the training to boost cashew production, as he reaffirmed that Abiola Ajimobi administration was committed to the transformation of the state through revenue generation, job creation and infrastructural development.