I came across this story in the press yesterday, “Nigeria to supply Walmart with $6 billion worth of cashew nuts”. Of course I was a little bit shocked so I did some small research and here is what I found.
In 2016 the worlds largest processed cashew nuts exporter, Vietnam, exported somewhere around $2.7bn worth of it. Vietnam accounted for about 58% of all exports in 2014 so safe to say they are the top dog. Also in 2014 , the total cashew exports of any kind, fresh or processed, stood at $6.1bn, of which Nigeria exported $152m of mostly fresh cashew nuts.
But wait, things might have changed since then. The most recent numbers from NBS put our cashew export numbers at N950m in Q4 2016 and N2.4bn in Q1 2017. Even if you extrapolate, the numbers are closer to $6m than $6bn.
So where did the $6bn figure come from? Quoting the minster of agriculture:
“But the other good news is cashew nuts. These things look small, but we are in conversations with Walmart, the biggest supermarket chain in the U.S., they came here and asked us to roast cashew nuts for them.
Their demand is a 130,000 tonnes of cashew nuts per annum, the total value is $7 billion,” he said.
In essence we actually don’t have the $6bn (or $7bn?) worth cashew nuts, either dried or fresh, to export. But maybe we have the capacity to produce it. Wait what?
“This year we are going to create six cashew processing factories in Nigeria, one each to be cited in Enugu, Imo, Benue, Kogi, Kwara and Oyo states. These are the cashew belt for now”
So we don’t have the cashew nuts. We don’t have the facilities to process whatever cashew nuts we have. All we have is a plan by a minister to set up factories. We all know how that typically ends.
It’s funny how these imaginary numbers get created by government officials, and lapped up by the press. I even heard it on the radio this morning. It would be nice if our press people actually did some fact checking before reporting them.