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February 21, 2011

Cashew prices double in Nigeria, lifted by Ivory Coast tensions

by Sam Olukoya

Cashew prices doubled in Nigeria in the last few months as political tensions in Ivory Coast, Africa’s second-biggest producer, curbed supply of the nuts, an industry official said.

“The price of a metric ton of cashew from Nigeria to the international market has gone up from about $600 to $1,200 since November,” Olatunji Owoeye, president of the National Cashew Association of Nigeria, said o February 17.

Ivory Coast is in the midst of a standoff as incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo refuses to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of a Nov. 28 election. Ouattara and the Cotton and Cashew Monitoring Committee, which tracks Ivory Coast’s cashew industry, have called for a halt in exports of the nuts to cut off funds to Gbagbo.

“The situation in Ivory Coast has reduced access to the country’s cashew nuts, so there is pressure on countries like Nigeria,” Owoeye said. “Buyers who fear that the political crisis in Ivory Coast would get worse are quickly scrambling for Nigeria’s cashew.”

Declining production in countries such as Vietnam and higher world food costs also helped to boost cashew prices on the global market, he said.

The nuts are among the main non-oil export commodities from Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, along with cocoa, leather and rubber, according to the country’s Export Promotion Council.

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