In spite of the border closure, smugglers in Nigeria are having a field day moving cashew across West African countries, including Nigeria.
According to The Nation, Nigeria’s neighbouring country, Ivory Coast, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Finance, who craved anonymity said, has surpassed the $9990m on cashew exports because of the nefarious activities of the smugglers.
“It is sad in spite of the closure of our land borders, cashew smugglers are smiling to the banks. For instance, Ivory Coast, with its small population, is said to be producing 750,000 tons or $1.5billion, while Nigeria cashew production is estimated at 260,000 tons or $520million as international selling price is about $2,000 per ton.
“But we have discovered that buyers from Benin, Ghana and Ivory Coast were rebranding Nigeria’s cashew nuts for export.
“Countries, such as Russia, Netherlands Vietnam, India, and Tanzania, are Nigeria’s biggest markets for cashew nuts last year because of its high quality. But some smugglers have been selling the nuts to neighbouring exporters because of the gridlock at the port roads, which made the nuts to be affected by fungi and other diseases before they get to the port after spending several months on the roads.”
A cashew trader, Mr Sunday Adelaja, who spoke at Idi-Iroko border in Ogun State, said most of the nuts were smuggled to the Benin Republic, where there was no export prohibition list. He raised the alarm that cashew trade was booming in that country.
“Our cargoes are promoting their prominence outside the world, making them feel bigger than us, whereas they are Nigerians cargoes.
“Most of the nuts are delayed on the road for longer time and spoilt before they get to their destinations. People preferred to take the nuts to other neighbouring countries.”
Last year, the Nigeria Cashew Exporters Association (NCEA) said the delays in shipment made some traders lose 50,000 tons of the commodity valued at $300 million in the first quarter.
The President of the association, Mr. Tola Fasheru, explained that some members of the group defaulted on contracts to the extent that foreign buyers were now walking away from them.
Last year, investigation revealed that some containerised nuts which arrived the ports were delayed for exports by Nigeria Customs Service (NSC) and other security agencies.
Another cashew trader, Felix Anderson said cashew nuts processed for export were delayed due to inadequate facility and corrupt practices both within and outside the ports.