Kogi government says it has rolled out new measures to salvage the dwindling fortunes of cashew business in the state.

The state Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Kehimde Oloruntoba, told newsmen in Lokoja on Monday that the new measures would restore exporters’ and investors’ confidence in Nigerian cashew.

According to him, cashew business in Nigeria has dropped in value from about N70 billion in 2017 to a little over N20 billion in 2018.

He said that the state, which had the potential to make about N350 million revenue annually, realised a paltry N6 million in a year from the business.

The commissioner said that Kogi produced 50 per cent of the over 200,000 tons of cashew currently produced in Nigeria.

The commissioner said the new regulations were premised on Federal Government’s Produce (enforcement of export standard) Act which allows for the enforcement of grades and standards of quality in respect of agricultural commodities.

The new rule prohibits buying and selling of cashew produce at farm gate, buying and selling cashew without license, and buying, selling or storing of adulterated cashew produce in the state.

Oloruntoba said that smuggling of cashew produce, unauthorized collection of levies on cashew produce, moving ungraded cashew in and out of the state were no longer allowed in the state.

The Commissioner also announced that graded cashew can only be moved out of the state between 6a.m. and 7p.m. while storing of cashew in unfumigated stores would no longer be allowed.

He said that any breach of the new regulations will attract maximum punishment, including possible prosecution of offenders.

The Chairman, Kogi Internal Revenue Service, Mr Aliyu Salami, said revenue officers would be deployed to the field to enforce the new regulations.

He appealed to operators in the cashew industry to cooperate and join hands with the government to restore sanity to the sector.

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