Shipment of cashew nuts worth N108 billion ($300 million) have been trapped at the Apapa port in Lagos since January, exporters of the produce have said.
Tola Fasheru, president of the Nigeria Cashew Exporters Association, told Bloomberg that gridlock and inefficiency at the Apapa port delayed shipment of up to 50,000 tonnes of cashew nuts and is threatening export from last year’s harvest.
The delay is likely to affect an output target of 260,000 tons for the current six-month season, which started in February and will end in July.
Roads leading to the Apapa port are badly congested, with hundreds of trucks queuing to enter the premises for delivery or pick up.
Fasheru said some members of the cashew association have defaulted on contracts, causing their foreign customers to walk out on are now walking away from them.
This is in addition to “inadequate capacity and infrastructure, stifling red tape and corruption” which he said is hampering export processes.
“There is a palpable lack of synergy among the port operators and this is affecting the business of our members, he said.
“They (foreign buyers) are no longer willing to gives us fresh contracts.
“Not one single cashew exporter is in the field now as he is owing on contracts and as a result has no money to operate with.”
Nigeria, which Africa’s sixth largest cashew producer plans to raise its annual production to 500,000 tons by 2023, according to a five-year strategic plan released in 2018 by the association.
The federal government has placed more focus on the agricultural sector in efforts to reduce dependency on an oil-based economy.
According it’s foreign trade report for the fourth quarter of 2018, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said agricultural exports represented the highest growth of 77.37%, increasing from N170.4 billion in 2017 to N302.2 billion in 2018.