Cashew business and Future of South East Economy (3)

Mrs Ginika Owoh frying cashew nuts at Awkunano Udi

Cashew nuts paradox: SME’s disruption, revolution and future of South-East in the multi-Billion naira industry (3)

By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu

Focus on cashew nuts in Nnobi

Umuagu village in Nnobi, Idemili South local government area of Anambra state is reputed for cashew plantations. Travellers are known to go through Nnobi to buy raw cashew for people at home. They are not after the nuts as people from Abia and Enugu states. They behave like Imo people but better because they focus on the apples.

But a visit to Umuagu community revealed the fact that cashew production like any agricultural produce in Nigeria has been relegated to the background.

Interestingly, the personalities contacted for interview declined on the ground that they don’t want trouble.

But, Mrs Onuchukwu Ebere who was seen in one of the plantations said she grew up to meet the cashew farm.
Mrs Ebere, seventy five years old said every young girl in the community used to go to the plantations to fetch cashew. She however pointed out that with the passage of time, many of the cashew farmers left Nnobi for the township.

“In those days, it’s only people from Utulu, in Abia state could compete with us when it comes to cashew farming but things have changed.

“The whole of land the community secondary school is located used to be cashew plantation. It stretched from Nnobi to Alor and Ideani and other neighboring communities. The story has changed.” Mrs Ebere noted.

She however said that all is not lost as some female residents of the community normally sell cashew fruits during the season of the farm produce.

Another respondent,  who simply identified herself as Mama Chioma said she buys the cashew nuts she sells at Afor market in Nnobi from Udi and Ezeagu all in Enugu state.
She said the price of cashew nuts is function of the availability of the nuts.

“Sometimes, cashew nuts will be so scarce that you have to comb so many towns and villages to get your desired quantity and quality. There is also this challenge from manufacturers who use cashew nuts as raw material for the products. They buy in bulk and at a higher price than we can afford. That’s the major challenge we are facing,” she stressed.

However, the traditional ruler of the Nnobi ancient kingdom, HRM, Engr Nick Obi when contacted said he was not around and he has gone for a state function in Awka.
Igwe Nick Obi said the cashew trees were actually planted to check mate the menace of erosion which they noticed at that time.

The monarch said people normally go to the plantation to get cashew fruits during its season.

The Nnobi monarch said cashew is strategically important because it contains certain herbal values apart from slowing down activities of erosion.

He stressed the need for the government and the community to partner so as to look into the plantation issue and see how to make it blossom.

He said that the community cannot unilaterally go into the cashew plantation in his kingdom because of the nation’s Land Use Act.

“This should not be limited to cashew plantation alone, Nigerians should cultivate the habit of planting more trees instead of cutting down the ones we already have. Everybody is talking about climate change today but we all have responsibility to checkmate it’s effect which is by planting more trees.

“Someone came to us recently to tell us about the importance of planting sweet potatoes in our environment, we are looking into that already. There are other plants like lemon, ‘ayun’ and other plants which contain herbal values without side effects. Planting of such herbal plants should be encouraged,” he said.

Igwe Nick Obi commended the media for the renewed awareness on the essence of cash as a crop and afforestation.

Nobody in the farm now

I insisted on visiting farms but indeed I met nobody Cashew nuts paradox: SME’s disruption, revolution and future of South-East in the multi-Billion naira industry (3)


Focus on cashew nuts in Abia state

After investigating Anambra in the first week of October, on 18 October 2019, by 5:30 am I was set for my trip to Ndiawa Isuochi in Umunneochi local government area. I arrived 9:55 am not without challenges.
A youth at heart and action as well as multi-talented, Mr Geoffrey Ogum informed me that one Papa Isaac Onyekwena first started cashew farming in Isuochi when Michael Okpara the former Eastern Nigerian leader brought cashew to the South East and Abia state in particular. Mr Ogwum is an Executive member of Ndiawa Development Union, Member Police Assistant Committee and member Ndiawa vigilant Group as well as a farmer.


Abala Isuochi cashew plantation known by locals as Cashew Board is located at the boundary of Enugu, Anambra, situated in more than 5 kilometres of land.  Cashew apple gets ready for eating between December and January and by June/July it’s over.

According to Mr Geoffrey Ogwum, a cashew farmer and Businessman who started the business since 2009, he said that in Isuochi, there are individual plantations and community based cashew plantations. He informed that Nneato in Umunneochi produces cashew but not as Isuochi. He informed that the cashew nut buyers bought from them N200 for a painter in 2009. He said he bought two (2) tons of cashew equal to 20 bags. He said they farmers buy from cashew owners in trees. For instance, in 2007, he bought 5 plots for N75,000 and luckily he sold it for N250,000 to a merchant.
Olam company an Indian company buys from them. There are other buyers for other companies including one Chukwudi who is also a buyer who buys and sells in Lagos. A bag contains 25 bulls. Before the Chinese came into market, the business was booming but they came into the hinterland and crashed the cashew business. India bought one bull for N1,000 in2018 but Chinese bought N1,500 even more.

Mr Geoffrey Ogwum , cashew nuts farmer


Geo as he is fondly called said: ‘’In the line of the business, there are merchants-Wholesales-Retailers and farmers. The merchants export. Like as I speak now, the whole sellers have phoned their buyers to stop buying. When the merchants arrive to evacuate the seeds, there would be counter balancing of money given them. The merchants trust their contacts to the extent that they could give them up to a Million to buy cashew nuts depending on the level of trust.

‘’The problem between the Chinese companies and Indian companies continued to persist and cashew prizes dropped from N1,000 to N600 and suddenly N200. Thus, the farmers lost. Then, some farmers rather stopped selling and stored their cashew nuts.

Geoffrey continued: ‘’In 2018, cashew rose to N1,500 for one bull (Custard bucket), Chinese and Indian companies had problem and the prize crashed. India people are our original buyers but Chinese came into the market and increased the prize only to crash it again.


The cashew farmers have an association known as Nneochi Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN). And this association supplies a minimum of 100 trucks every other month to the merchants of cashew nuts whereas the association in Nneto supplies a minimum of 65 trucks. There are other cashew associations at Mbala, Ndiawa, and Lomara as well as in the other 9 villages in Umunneochi but not as vast and populated as Isuochi and Nneto.
Geoffrey Ogwum knows everything about cashew farming and harvesting. He said Olam company wanted to come and see the cashew farmers , buy from them directly even discuss on modalities of building a cashew extractive factory in Isuochi, but big retailers and wholesalers scuttled it.
He said high prizing big companies went back from purchasing the nuts on the advice of the wholesalers as they were advised them to wait for a while for a cheaper period. Then, smaller companies came in and bought something like 4 to 6 trailers. The big farmers waited for when the cashew farmers are looking for people to buy even though cashew thieves can sell at any rate.


Unfortunately, cashew nuts, the longer it stays , the more the nuts depreciate and decay. 2018 was a huge lost to cashew farmers in Nneochi and that affected 2019 harvests.


Cashew farmers started selling N500 for the custard bucket, then it came to N200. Their fried nuts, they boast is better than the ones extracted by machine. In most families, the men do the planting and harvesting whereas the women fry the nuts and sell in bottles. It is risk, they said, because the oil explodes without notice.

He informed that to get the best of the nuts, the farmers allowed the nuts to fall to the ground and decay for 2 days before picking them. That means the apple isn’t put into consideration in such arrangements.

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According to Mr Sunday Egboo, a cashew farmer, Isuochi cashew farmers produce the best in the country. He confirmed that those cashew nuts harvested on top of the trees are not the best of nuts and spoils business for the wholesalers and thus affecting their prizing. The best cashew nuts he said were those allowed to fall and decay before picking the nuts.

Cashew Pirates in Umunneochi


To ensure cashew pirates are checkmated, the community has a taskforce to drive away cashew pirates away. The thieves enter the farms by night even with guns and touch light.


Egboo informed that if you dare visit your cashew farm by night unarmed, the pirates or cashew thieves can kill the farmer.
He however said the only saving grace in such situations is capturing the face of the cashew thief before he or she escapes and once that is done, you report the thief to the taskforce.


Again, the villagers have means of identifying their cashew nuts even in heaps of millions of other cashew nuts.
None of the farmers was able to reveal that secret of catching a cashew nuts pirate or thief in the market place where he or she comes to sell the nuts. But they have that and it works for them.
And once that is shown to an IPO handling the reported matter or the taskforce committee, the table turns against the thief. And the culprit bears the brunt of the other thieves to his or her farm.

Chairman of Nneochi Cashew farmers Association of Nigeria, NCAN, Hon Ken Ifoh was not handy to speak to me but he promised to speak on phone, but having gotten the information I needed I didn’t get back to him.

Cashew oil during frying and blindness

When frying cashew nuts, the oil if not properly handled can cause blindness if enters the eye. If it touches the skin, it can pill the skin. It is highly inflammable like gas though they are always careful. Frying cashew nuts is risky, but what can they do, it’s a business they have decided to engage in.

Mrs Ginika Owoh frying cashew nuts at Awkunano Udi

Fire disasters

Hunters are their greatest suspects of bush burning that has destroyed cashew plantations. They fish for games and in the process light up the bushes and before you know it the cashew plantation catches fire. Government rewards them if they catch up the hunters or enemies who light up the cashew plantation because there is subsisting government order against bush burning.


Once fire is set on the plantation, it sets back the cashew yield as the cashew trees shed their leaves to start afresh. The farmers too suffer setback on their investment as the cashew will not yield fruits that year fire burnt it.
Every November, cashew farmers embark on preventive measures against fire disaster but sometimes evil people ignite the fire to waste efforts of their follow cashew farmers. When this happens, farm bought with over N200,000 can be a waste .


By December the Cashew buyers supposed to start making contacts and by February latest, they must have come. They rent houses, warehouses, hire contact boys, even buy for them motorcycles for easy movement of bags of nuts from point of purchase to the warehouses.


In 2019, the cashew buyers came by March ending whereas their middlemen bought with their monies, waiting for the big companies to come and buy, but it never happened that way. They bought N600 and sold N250. That was a wasted effort and resources.
This year 2019, there are good seeds everywhere in Nneochi, but nuts didn’t sell well. Good seeds were possible because there were no pirates. That means nobody was buying cashew seeds.


Some cashew were abandoned in the farm like in previous years of 2017 and 2018 which witnessed low sales and it affected 2019 yields as cashew bought on trees in 2017 were affected by fire. The cashew trees did not yield. Some of the farmers will beg the owners for compensation which may be to remove money for the agreed sum the upper year. But when it yields, the cashew farmers thank the owner with either cash or gifts.
Fire disaster turned some of them to debtors as according to Geoffrey, ‘’I am turning to an unfaithful buyer as I am still owning the land owners’’.

Cashew Plantations in Isuochi

Geoffrey Ogwum said they have communal cashew farms and individual cashew farms and the business is open to everyone. The communal one is open for everyone to harvest and watch over against mayhem in any type. He said the apples are for eating because no one buys it around. The seeds or nuts for sales, eating and preservation. The cashew chaff for is used for charcoal used in cooking. Oil for bleaching cream and for driving the aeroplane previously. It stains clothes. The people of Isuochi do not extract the oil. They are still looking for means to bring in the foreigners into Isuochi to have their factory to create jobs and businesses for people.

Isuochi roundabout and cashew farm
Isuochi roundabout and cashew farm

Cashew plantation boundary disputes between family members because of commission involved. Cashew farmers bought the cashew before it yields fruits and if not well researched into before buying, during harvest there may be problems of who takes the money accruals. This can be a problems of its own.
He said that early in the 80’s , the people of Isuochi do not sell the nuts and did nothing with the cashew trees, but eat as much as they could, fry some and then cut the trees for wood.


He said: ‘’We cut the cashew trees for firewood. We only eat the fruits and throw away the seed. We didn’t start selling the seeds.
‘’There is a fertile land in Umunneochi local government and the cashew trees do not tolerate the existence of other trees. It kills other trees. There were no buyers for the cashew nuts then but today it is a multi-billion naira business that one can because of his large cashew farm get a woman’s hand in marriage.

 Isuochi and cashew farm
Isuochi and cashew farm


He said: ‘If you have 10 acres of cashew plantation in Isuochi, someone can come and marry your daughter just because of the wealth associated with the cash crop. In Isuochi, you can hire cashew farm or buy cashew plantation and build farm houses for its safe keep until harvest. Cashew thieves are everywhere, daring people even to the extent of coming to their houses to carry the already harvested bags.

He informed that there are cashew plantations in isikwato, Lokpa, Uturu among others in Abia state.

Okechukwu Chukwu is another cashew farmers in Abia I met and he said cashew gives them money. He claims they drink, eat and enjoy cashew since it was discovered as an economic crop. He said they marry , train their children and build from the proceeds of the cashew business. There was even a first feat by a girl one, Gloria Anyanwu who used proceeds of cashew business to build a house, her father , late Marcus Anyanwu built a house too from cashew.


Cashew business in Isuochi is such that if you are doing business and you have problems , you return home to do cashew business and return with enough dough if you are dedicated to it. It is a money spinner of sorts.
‘’The farmers every year target on the project they want to use the cashew money to actualize, whatever it is and you will actualize it.
‘’I planned to fence my compound, but it failed because of the disappointment. Cashew is like oil for us. You can pick 5 Bulls or Galaxy and sell 2 to feed your family.

Animals challenge


The farmers agreed that animals fight them at the farms. Eke Ikputu (smaller python)and other poisonous snakes like black mamba cobra that can even fight you in the farm. They live within the cashew vicinity waiting for other animals including human beings coming to eat cashew.


There are scorpions too and scorpion sting can be hurting. We wear safety boot. I killed numerous scorpions last year. That’s why we keep the cashew plantation neat like a living premises to keep away snakes and scorpions yet to no avail. You cook, eat and wake there. Our young ladies either sell the seeds or fry it though the merchants don’t want us to fry because according to them frying is a waste.

Women and girls vulnerable

Women are advised not to stay in the cashew farm alone without men for fear of rape from the criminal elements and herdsmen.
Herdsmen are another big challenge as they desecrate the cashew plantation environment with cow dungs. Any cashew that falls on cow dung is contaminated. There is also a fly that follows the cow that bites aside tse-tse-fly. That fly is deadly and it scars their people from going close the cashew farms once cows pass by. The Herdsmen can even maim cashew farmers for scolding them for allowing their cows into nearby farms or destroying things in the cashew farm.  The herdsmen often set the cashew farm on fire and their cows destroy anything on site including the farm demarcation and protection.

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For Late Mrs Martina Oti , mother of Felix Oti, a newspaper circulation expert, her mother cultivates 3 hectares of land which according to him is about 12 plots of land which she used to train all her 6 children.
Felix said: ‘’All of us are today graduates from the proceeds of the cashew. She built a house , supported us in every way possible in our businesses with huge amounts of money, because she insisted that no matter where we work that we must own a business or an entrepreneurship firm. Cashew business is lucrative.


‘If Abia state government can intervene to bring a cashew processing factory to Isuochi it would make things easier for the cashew farmers. He said they will give them land and all the necessary support to thrive. He said the cashew fruits are wasting even when a cashew processing company could use them for cash fruit juice. They will give them land at no cost, even accommodation.


Isuochi boasts of people who can attract investment in cashew nut business like Bishop of Methodist Church Nigeria, Onitsha who is from Isuochi; Chief Kingsley Onyegocha, a billionaire and husband of Hon Nkiruka Onyegocha , member representing Isukwato/Umunneochi federal constituency is also from there, Senator Uche Chukwumerije , The Igwe’s family as well as Chrisnak investments, publishers of The Oracle Today.

in all the farms visited but at Ngodo Village, I ran into a retailer of cashew nuts, Mr Agwu Hyacinth, who said they buy for wholesalers and he has been two years into the business.


I met him in one of his warehouses. He lamented that since 2017 till 2019 that there was no market in the business as prizes remained low. He said he came since January to buy cashew nuts and bought bags at N15,000 only to supply to wholesalers at N13,000  a bag of 81Kg cashew nuts which is 25 painters at the rate they buy it before reducing it to 81kg. 25 paints are higher than 81kg.


He admitted that he came to buy cashew nuts but when the business weren’t moving as anticipated, he diverted to palm kernel business. He confessed that he was at Ikom dealing on rice but was forced out of business by closure of boarder as he dedicated his attention full to the business. He used to combine cashew business with rice business. He said buyers come from far and near particularly Lagos to buy a minimum of three trucks per week. A trailer load is 30 tons, containing 360 bags. He confirmed that the wholesalers sometimes avail them of money to purchase bags of nuts for them.


Again, Mr Emeka Uzoigwe from Ngodo village , a cashew farmer and entrepreneur informed they were told the cashew oil was used for driving planes before new oil for that was discovered. He said now it is used for bleaching cream and other cosmetics. He said the foreign companies remove the nuts from the seed and use the oil from the seeds to produce cream for body bleaching creams and soaps.


He said Olam company stayed in a house he superintends as caretaker with 3 big warehouses and carts away a minimum of three trailers of cashew nuts every week. The Indian company has been in the house in the last 10 years. The warehouses contained about 400 bags of cashew each in 8 warehouses. One warehouse is about 3 to 4 trailers. There were other warehouses too in the compound owed by Yerima from Benin who loads 4 trailers as well.


He said once cashew buyers came to the village, everywhere becomes alive and income goes round. Prizes fluctuated until it became normal at 80kg but those in the driver’s seat aren’t seeing it same. It still sold N200 a galaxy and ironically many did not get to their farms for harvesting.
Uzoigwe informs that whenever the cashew nuts cost, everyone becomes involved in one way or the other in picking the nuts. He has been in the business for 15 years and still counting.


He supports cashew business with his provision stores. He was born 1957. He admitted that many sleep in their cashew farms until day break. He told a story of how he was in his farm when cashew pirates as they were called in the village came to steal from his cashew plantation. He shot into the air and they ran.


There was one he caught red handed but allowed him to go in peace because cashew is their own type of oil industry. He referred to another person who picked his cashew but thieves invaded, tied him to the cashew tree and took away all he picked for several hours. His people searched everywhere for him to no avail only to see him tied on the cashew tree. He said people equally resort to charms to safeguard their cashew nuts as thieves rather pick nuts for the owner nonstop until the owner pities them and decides to release them when they must have exhausted their strength.  This can go on for weeks. There was one caught and he picked cashew for one week for the owner.

Preservation


The cashew farmers admitted low preservation methods in their farms hence cashew nuts tend to be many in Isuochi during cashew season but scarce after cashew season. This they said, affects the prize. Best preservation method is exposing the nuts to the sun after plucking the nuts of the ones allowed to fall and decay before harvesting. And when not dried under the sun before selling, the seed won’t be okay but because after drying the quantity drops, many farmers sell without taking preservation as critical.
2019 as well witnessed low quality harvest and instead of 48, 46 QAR , they were getting 36 and 38 QAR. This is the way we check the quality and quantity. He explained it to me but I couldn’t comprehend that mathematics.

Solution to bad nuts

Sun dry before packaging. Do not package immediately. If not well dried, it starts to rot. Allow to mature before harvesting and if possible allow to fall off the trees and decay before harvesting the seeds.

No infrastructure
The cashew farmers who spoke to me, all lamented that there is no electricity, no pipe borne water, no roads in Isuochi to cheer for the cashew business. They said there is nothing cheering to show for the millions taken away from their community. They insisted that herdsmen remained a biggest challenge for the community as they not only destroy cash crops and people’s farm land but scare farmers particularly cashew farmers from their cashew plantations.

Rains, grants and no action in government cashew board
Rains are not friends to cashew as if the cashew fruits starts to plummet and it rains , that year it would be a poor harvest. It does better with the sun than rains. They have never gotten government interventions in terms of grants but would appreciate it, to do better with their cashew farms.

This November, nobody was in the farms known as cashew board until cashew starts to fruit and the government will employ labourers to clean the farm environment to avoid bush fire. Then during harvest, people are engaged to harvest too. It’s large farm.

The place appears abandoned because large chunk of the cashew farm has been burnt down by fire. Thieves equally add salt to injury during harvest time, hence I advocate that government pays more attention to the cashew business and farms for optimal harvests. There is need for better cashew species to be introduced.

Godson Ibe aka Uwashine when visited at Lomara village is a cashew dealer. He said they buy from cashew farmers and sell to buyers from Nsukka Enugu state and Benue state. At the moment, he has no cashews in his warehouse in Isuochi but 10 bags. They have in Benue state. He buys cashew from Nnobi in Anambra, Abia, Kogi, Enugu, Imo , Benue, and Nasarawa states and sells to Exporters. He has an exporter partner in Benue and either buy for him or takes him to go and buy from the farmers.
According to him, ‘cashew has no king’, once you have money, you can supply them.  He said lack of cash flow and lack of good processing or poor processing. He said there are so many successes that can come with cashew business including marriage from the proceeds of cash, building houses , cars and training of their children. He concluded that cashew business is a huge business, even yet untapped. He taught I came for business.
I saw cashew plantation near Evangel Secondary school Ndiawa which is faced with erosion threat. I ate fresh fried cashew nuts not roasted or baked and it was of better taste to the ones imported.

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Enugu Cashew farmers’ experiences

Different communities in Enugu state specialize in cashew business. These communities include Agbudu, Nsude, Nachi, Nsukka, Obakwa Umuagu, Achi, Umuabi Udi, among others. I set out to Awkunano Udi and Achi, both in Enugu state to their market known as Ekegbochi. I overheard them saying cashew nuts could be seen in Nkwo Inyi Oji River cashew market.

At Awkunano Udi cluster of cashew processors zone, I met a Secondary school leaver, Chisom Owuh was busy picking the nuts already fried to remove the white like coating before the nuts. The shells were already out of it. She was also separating the nuts –wholesome and broken ones.
She said all her life was in that business and if government organizes the business for them , it would yield more dividends and as well attract other young school leavers idling away.

Processing of cashew nuts at Awkunano Udi


Of all the places I have visited, I did not meet the farmers or traders frying the nut until I ran into them at Awkunano Udi. I watched as Mrs Ginika Owoh measured two plates of raw cashew nuts containing about three hundred nuts and crash landed into the fry pan already on the oven.
After some minutes smokes will fill the frying pan, and the cashew will start emitting gasoline oil , very inflammable. After a while, the entire fry pan would be covered with fire and then it was time to bring it down to avoid charring. A sprinkle of water would be added to reduce the raging fire, then the frying pan would be crash landed on the floor from the oven, then ashes would be added immediately to dry up the water sprayed and oil from the cashew nut shell. Immediately, it would be poured on the cracking panel or mat and you immediately crack them to avoid sticking to the shells when it cools. You can pack it after the cracking to pick some other time or pick it up immediately but most preferably, you pick it immediately to retain its best taste. The processes continues and in a day one basket is the highest anyone could go as it is not only tedious but tasking and energy sapping. I ate it. It was sweeter than the imported ones in its natural state. There was no addictive, but the time to prepare it is enormous. The fry pan is turned with a very long stick to avoid close contacts with the gasoline oil. After picking, it is spread for the sun to dry it. Some take it to the oven in Nsukka for baking or frying depending on what one wants. Some others would just sell them to other cashew nut business dealers. The nuts were storage as it was yet time for cashew season to start.

Awkunano women

Mrs Esther Aneke told me that they pick the cashew nuts from no man’s land running into acres where the Enugu Airport was previously located at Awkunano Udi. They call the place NA which according to them is the short term for Nigerian Airport Authority. There is a big cashew plantation there owned by nobody and everyone is entitled to pick nuts there. The only prohibition is on unripe fruits as is nuts are not economically viable and creates problem for the cashew industry and market.


She is optimistic that with government soft loan ,the industry would be competitive , urging the Enugu state government to think in the direction of attracting investors to establish cashew nut fruit juice processing mills and cashew nuts processing mills to make life easier for them. She said Enugu has a comparative advantage in the cashew industry if established as it would take away so many youths off the streets.


She admitted that the local way they adopted in processing the nuts are dangerous and risk as the cashew oil when it explodes on the fire during frying. If it touches the eye, the eye is damaged and if it touches the body it peels it off as if one is suffering from an infection. So , she said the women needed a protective vest to promote safety while frying, or a hi-tech equipment to modernize the business still in its crude form several decades cashew nuts were brought to the country.

Mrs Ginika Owoh frying cashew nuts at Awkunano Udi


She said Fulani herdsmen troubles them at the cashew plantation , raping them, chasing them away and sometimes fighting them to harvest the nuts and later sale to them.  She informed that for the fear of the unknown , most women now own a shop and deal on other things or buy cashew from the market to avoid harassment and harm from herdsmen.


Mrs Ginika Owuh and Mrs Eze Ogochukwu concurred with all Mrs Anaeke stated adding that after frying and picking a maximum of two baskets, they would go and rest for the next day, but with modern equipment for processing cashew, there would be better opportunities and minimized labour for the women.


In front of St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Awkunano Udi, some women there said they are yet to form an association but they have started gathering themselves for such for easier access to soft loan, grants and likes from the government.

Mrs Ginika Owoh and Mrs Eze Ogochukwu packing cashew spread in the sun to dry rather than bake at Awkunano Udi
Mrs Ginika Owoh and Mrs Eze Ogochukwu packing cashew spread in the sun to dry rather than bake at Awkunano Udi


Spokesperson of the women, Mrs Chinyere Chime traced the cashew plantation to the White men who brought and cultivated the seeds in the massive communal land. She said that at Umuabi Udi, the people own their cashew plantations because they have agriculture cashew plantations. She informed that large shipment of cashew nuts storage would be seen at Nkwoagu Umuabi market, Udi and some at Orie Agu market Awukunano. She pointed out that they pick the cashew nuts unmolested at the communal cashew plantation, admitting that occasional harassment come from herdsmen. When picked, she said the nuts would be spread to dry in the sun for three days before storing or selling. She warned that during processing, sand must be avoided like plaque. Someone can pick up to 10 bottles or 20 bottles depending on the person’s strength or 3 to 15 painters in a day. She said a painter sales of raw cashew nuts sales for N500 against N2000 it sold last year.


She informed that anywhere there is cashew now is old stock as new stock will start from January to April next year. She admitted that the business is lucrative as that remained the only source of their family income.
Collaborating her views, Mrs Ijeoma Idenye and Mrs Ngozika Eneokwe as well as Ujunwa Chime agreed that sometimes making N5,000 daily in the business is an understatement as some are into serious business supplying nuts in bags and vans to Ekeagba Achi , Iyi Achi markets. At Ekeagba market, a painter of processed cashew nut is N5,000 and they have cashew plantations there making it a market to see the nuts in abundant all year round.  The raw nuts sales for N900 per painter.


They lamented that government has done nothing for them even when their son , Sullivan Chime was a former Governor. They want government to build a factory for the women to process the cashew nuts and cashew fruit juice at a reduced drudgery. They said the Udi council area long time ago banned people from plucking unripe cashew nuts as it causes breakdown in the aeroplane. What that means I didn’t know. But it is an allusion that the cashew nut oil is used to drive the plane. They admitted that some families cut off the cashew nut trees when farming and fire often guts down the trees. That they admit there is need for a premeditated attempt to replace the old species with better species for optimal yields. They said a minimum N2 Million can boost the cashew nut business in that locality with government providing processing machines.

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