Ogbomoso takes front seat in cashew cultivation
Hastom Farms Opens New Vista To Unlocking Crop Potentials
Nigeria is one of the largest producers of raw cashew nuts globally, rated fourth in the world, with an estimated yearly export volume of, at least, $167m and an untapped potential of over $115.8m.
In 2017 alone, over 220,000 tonnes of cashew were exported, estimated at N144.7b. In the first half of 2019, cashew emerged as the country’s third-biggest agricultural export this year, coming behind Sesame seeds and cocoa beans, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
But despite the promises the produce holds, its potentials are yet to be fully harnessed, due to several factors, which include lack of capacity, poor storage facility for cashew fruits and many more. For instance, an estimated eight million tonnes of the fruits are wasted yearly.
Cashew producing states are Kaduna, Abia, Kogi, Enugu, Kwara, Oyo, Niger, Imo, and Abuja FCT. But while Kogi leads the pack among the producing states, accounting for 60 per cent of the country’s total output, Oyo State, Ogbomoso, to be precise, is another cashew destination.
Unknown to many, The Guardian learnt that Ogbomoso is the home of best quality cashew, which has endeared the heart of importing countries. A recent visit to the ancient town attested to this as the mainstay of the residents.
During the farm tour of Hastom Farms, its Chief Executive, Mr. Debo Thomas said Ogbomoso has the best soil and climate for cashew in Nigeria and also produces the best quality cashew nuts.
He affirmed that cashew from the town have far better commercial value than those from other areas in the country. “Of recent, in 2018, a kilo sold for N650.00 and N650, 000.00 for a ton. You can make much more profit from cashew nuts investments in Ogbomoso than any other place in the country.”
For now, Hastom farms boasts of a total of 1,700 acres of land, of which 500 acres have been dedicated to cultivate cashew, while the remaining 1,200 acres are reserved for cattle rearing. “We initially have 2,500 acres, 800 have been sold out, about 70 per cent of the sold land are used for cashew cultivation. While we have also set up over 3,000 acres of cashew farm for different absentee farmers that bought land from us in Ogbomoso.”
Thomas disclosed that he ventured into the business when someone from Lagos was willing to buy cashew but was unable to get the needed quantity, despite the fact that many of the dealers have the produce stocked in their warehouses.
“From there, I discovered that there is a huge gap in the industry. I had wanted to sell all the 2,500 acres, but seeing the challenge, I set aside the acres used for cultivation.
“More people still need to cultivate, we’ve been educating people on the need to invest and cultivate. From next month, we’ll be starting farm funding, where people will be investing and at the end of the year, they’ll be entitled to 20 per cent profit. The price for a tree is N12, 500 and we sell minimum of 10 trees. The arrangement is always a year; we’ll clear the land, get some documents, plough the land, plant and manage it.
“Cashew farming is one of the most profitable long-term agricultural investments. While in the short term, the spacing style employed creates room for intercropping with other crops like soya, corn, groundnut, watermelon etc, which will ultimately generate revenues enough to serve as maintenance cost for the farm and some immediate profits.
“For those willing to buy cashew trees, there is ample opportunity for them. You just buy the land; a minimum of 10 acres, you can buy as much as you want, we’ll set it up and manage for you. A tree will last for a period of 40 years.”
Thomas disclosed that from next year, it will start to export, starting with 1,500 tonnes, while 7,500 tonnes will be sold to other exporters. “We’ll be exporting it, in form of raw cashew nuts to India and Vietnam. “Dealers have been calling us from United Arab Emirates and Hong Kong to buy processed cashew nuts from us, but to us, exporting raw cashew nuts is not a problem.”
While noting that cost of clearing has been one of the major challenges facing him and other farmers, Thomas appealed to the Federal Government to replicate the intervention done to the Palm Oil sector in the cashew industry.
“Processing of cashew should be encouraged. There should be assistance for people to go into cashew production and processing.”