Over the last decade, the global agricultural commodity market has improved significantly due to population growth, economic growth, advances in transport, information and communication technology, and improved access to markets. Accordingly, the global cashew market has recorded strong expansion in the last decade, with cashew nut production increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 5% to 790,000 metric tonnes in 2018.
Growth in the international cashew market has been supported by increased consumption of cashew (particularly in middle – and upper-income countries) due to greater health consciousness. This is as cashew nuts are said to contain ‘heart-healthy’ fats, minerals and vitamins, which consumers like to incorporate into daily diets. Other valuable parts of the cashew tree include the cashew apple which can be eaten raw or used as jam, preserves, juice, liquor, dietary fibre in confectionaries, bioethanol fuel and as a feed ingredient in the livestock industry. The juice of the cashew apple is also used as a salve to relieve rheumatic pain.
In the same way, sesame seed also referred to as ‘Beniseed’ in Nigeria are mainly exported to Asia and Europe for use in the preparation of hummus, toppings on sushi cuisines and confectionery products. The product’s gross export value to Asia and Europe reached ₦30billion in Q4’2018 – highlighting an export potential of ₦120billion per annum in Nigeria. Sesame seed remains in high demand abroad by pharmaceuticals and industries that produce soap, shampoo, lubricant, paints, cosmetics and oil. A popular women’s body lotion ‘Neutrogena’ is made from sesame oil.
While cashew and sesame remain key agricultural export commodities in Nigeria, the products like other agri-commodities are traditionally exported in an unprocessed form which creates a loss in value add. Almost 40% of global cashew supplies are shipped to India and Vietnam for shelling and, this loss of value-added totals about $200 million. Therefore, there is need for increased private investments in cashew and sesame processing. This will involve investment in state-of-the-art processing facilities, raw material sourcing from reliable small- and large-scale farmers with good quality output as well as adequate marketing to reach wider clients. It is necessary to note that overseas clients often insist on product quality certifications or at least agro produce inspection from reputable vendors such as SGS for quality assurance.
Most importantly, for cashew and sesame seed processing to thrive, there is need for adequate supply of raw materials – implying that farming challenges such as (use of crude farming implements, smallholder farmlands, poor access to capital which inhibits farmers’ use of modern planting, harvesting and threshing machines, etc) must be resolved.
Overall, Nigeria’s cashew and sesame seeds remain key crops that will drive the export diversification bid of the Nigerian Government, given the crops’ rapidly developing markets due to growing consumption as snacks and toppings for bakery products.
 International Nuts & Dried Fruits Statistical Year Book 2017/2018