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The realm of cashew nut trade within the Enugu community: How women make fortune

Obollo-Afor, situated as the headquarters of Udenu Local Government Area in Enugu State, has gained recognition for its cultivation of cashew nuts, avocado pears, plantain, banana, mangoes, and various other crops.

In the present day, the global significance of cashew nut production has elevated the status of the community. Visitors from around the world flock to Obollo-Afor to engage in the purchase of this valuable commodity.

Obollo-Afor, the administrative center of Udenu Local Government Area in Enugu State, has gained renown for its production of cashew nuts, avocado pears, plantains, bananas, mangoes, and other agricultural products.

In recent times, the global significance of cashew nut production has turned Obollo-Afor into a hub, attracting consumers from Europe, America, Asia, and various African nations. The commodity, once primarily consumed locally, has evolved into a crucial economic pillar for the community, providing livelihoods for hundreds of individuals who either partially or entirely depend on it for sustenance.

Previously, locals utilized cashew nuts both as a food source and a gesture of hospitality to entertain guests. However, the dynamics have shifted, with cashew nut production now serving as a primary source of income for many. Among the various businesses in the region, the cashew nut industry is believed to be the largest employer of labor.

Aside from Obollo-Afor, cashew nuts are also sourced from other areas in Enugu State, including Orba, Ibagwa, Igbo-Eze modern market, Oghe, and 9th Mile Corner market. As of 2016, Nigeria had become the sixth-largest global producer of raw cashew nuts, producing approximately 120,000 metric tonnes annually.

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Recent figures indicate substantial growth, with Nigeria exporting 315,677 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts valued at $252 million in 2022, constituting 5.24 percent of the country’s non-oil exports. The National Bureau of Statistics reported that in the first quarter of 2023, Nigeria exported cashew nuts in the shell worth N27.1 billion, with the Republic of Vietnam being the top destination.

The thriving cashew nut market in Obollo-Afor starts buzzing as early as 6:00 am on Afor-market days, which occur every four days. People travel from distant places like Benue and Kogi states, as well as neighboring communities, to buy and sell raw cashew nuts.

Despite the potential of cashew nut production to generate millions in foreign exchange, some challenges persist. These include the lack of packaging facilities, insufficient processing machines leading to long waiting times, delayed payments from buyers, and a slowdown in market activity during the rainy season.

Efforts from both government and non-governmental organizations to establish a cashew nut industry in the area have been observed, but locals express the need for more significant investments and support to fully unlock the economic potential of the business. The employment opportunities provided by cashew nut processing, particularly for young girls, make it a vital source of income for many families in Obollo-Afor.

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