The Managing Director/CEO of African Cashew Alliance (ACA), Dr. Babafemi Oyewole, says investment in cashew farming can help Nigeria in its diversification efforts from a mono product economy. Cashew, he explains in an interview with Daniel Essiet, has high prospects of attracting foreign direct investments if the right things are done.
What do you see as the role for Western-based agribusinesses in Africa?
Africa can learn a lot from the Western-based agribusiness model, which is to run agriculture as a business enterprise. This is because, agriculture in Africa has not been developed or seen as a business activity and this explains why the educated elite are shying away from going into it. Agriculture is still largely practiced for subsistence living and this explains the large scale poverty in agricultural communities in Africa. This is also where the government has a lot to do in sensitising the population, particularly the youth, that they can become millionaires and billionaires if they engage in agribusiness. However, given that Africa has a large population, mechanisation of agribusiness will have to be gradual. This is what we are seeing in the cashew industry, where labour is still being employed for shelling and peeling cashew nuts.
Is the cashew industry open to foreign direct investment and/or partnerships between local and foreign companies in its agribusi-ness market?
Like any other industry, the cashew industry is open to foreign direct investment and partnerships between local and foreign companies. Due to the enormous opportunities in the cashew industry in Africa, a lot of foreign investors have partnered local entrepreneurs to set up plantations and processing factories that are adding value to the crop in the continent. Cashew processing, for example, is a capital and technology intensive business that is often beyond most local investors, so foreign investment has complemented local investors in the industry. Actually, the modest improvement in cashew processing in Africa from three prer cent in 2006 to about 15 per cent in 2015 has been made possible by foreign investors such as Olam, Fludor, etc, with cashew processing factories in countries, such as Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Benin Republic.
Publication date: 10/17/2016