To ensure wide acceptability of Nigerian Cashew, through quality packaging at the international market, the National Cashew Association of Nigeria has appealed to the Federal Government to implement the approved duty waiver for imported jute bags for its members.
National President of the body, Tola Faseru, who disclosed this in Lagos, said based on earlier letter to government, the waiver was approved in 2016 to get the bags at reduced price for cash export, but close to two years after the approval, it is yet to be implemented.
With the current progress of the commodity standing at 220,000 metric tonnes (mt) yearly, as against 90,000mt in 2011, the country currently imports jute bags worth N1.430b at the rate of N500 per bag, which not only increases the cost of production, but has also forced others to adopt a strategy of using fairly used bags (Tokunbo) for exportation.
Demand for jute sacks is rising daily, as the country relies solely on importation. In 2015, Nigeria spent N5.60b to import jute bags alone.
The demand gap, The Guardian learnt, has forced commodity exporters to import fairly used jute sacks from Ghana, despite the country’s capacity to farm kenaf in 23 states and process it into jute bags and other related products.
Sadly, most of the jute bags from Ghana, already used for fish before being sold to Nigeria, as reliably gathered by The Guardian, are being used to package cashew for export and when it gets to Europe, one of the reasons they are rejected is because the cashews nuts will have been affected by the fish odour.
Faseru said the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh is trying to reawaken the manufacture of jute bags, by putting in place machineries and encouraging farmers too.
It was learnt that two kenaf factories were established in Badagry, Lagos State and in Jos, Plateau State in 1960, with the aim of encouraging commercial kenaf farming, to produce items like jute bags for the storage of agricultural produce, and for export of cocoa, cashew and palm kernel.
Continuing, Faseru noted that the cashew value chain has witnessed tremendous growth since 2011 with improved packaging that has positively impacted its quality. “Cashew has proved to be better than other countries, due to support from government, commitment of the stakeholders, exporters and farmers.”
He said things are being put in place for the country to begin export of processed cashew this year, as promised by the minister, noting that processing has to be adequately done to ensure that the product competes favourably with products from other countries. “Before the end of the year, new companies will come on stream, private initiatives are going to come onboard also.”
The Guardian News