By Friday Idachaba
Anyigba (Kogi) – Kogi government says it has reinforced its agricultural produce laws to arrest adulteration of cashew nuts produced in the state.
Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, the Commissioner for Agriculture made this known at a one-day workshop on “Cashew nuts Quality Control and Regulations” on Friday in Anyigba, Ikogi.
The workshop was organised by Federal Produce Inspection Service (FPIS) in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment for farmers’ associations, licensed buyers’ agents, exporters, processors and government agencies.
Oloruntoba, who was represented by Mr Emmanuel Idenyi, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that Nigerian cashew used to be the best and of the highest grade, “unfortunately, the quality had been on the ebb in the last two years.’’
“To forestall further depreciation of quality, we came up with a lot of measures that will prevent and arrest the adulteration of our produce by producers from other states.
“We are going to reinforce the produce laws. We will ensure 100 per cent compliance by arresting anyone collaborating or indulging in sharp practices.
“The bags to be used will be coded and branded with Kogi name and seal. Any unbranded produce that is intercepted will be impounded.
“Security agencies have been informed, Produce Guards have been mandated to enforce the laws and they are going to be everywhere, at the warehouses and even on the farms too,” he said.
Mr Idris Dafang, the Coordinator of the programme and Deputy Director in the FPIS said that the quality of cashew nuts from Nigeria at the international market had become an issue of great concern to the Federal Government.
He said that the programme was necessitated by the serial rejection of cashew nuts from the country last year and the need to ensure that every produce leaving the shores of Nigeria met international standard.
Dafang said that there was a glut of cashew nuts in the international market in the last two years because some other countries went into cashew production.
He said that the trade was now highly competitive, adding that the quality cashew nut had become the main determinant for demand.
Mrs Amina Abdulmalik, the Director of Produce at the Nigeria Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Lokoja Office urged the participants to imbibe necessary knowledge to improve the market for the product.
Alhaji Ichapi Mohammed, the National Leader of National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) said that the production chain could not be said to be complete until the product got to the final consumer.
Mohammed said that the chain was being impeded by paucity of funds.
“The impediment to our production is finance. We know what to do to improve the quality of our cashew but our farmers are impeded by finance.
“BOA, NEXIM and NEPC need to assist financially,” Mohammed said. (NAN)