A cashew nut processing expert, Mr Pankaj Chawla, says aging trees remain the major challenge to cashew nut business, both for local consumption and export purposes in Nigeria. Chawla, who is the Country Representative of Valency International Agro Limited, said this on Wednesday at a training for Wild Organic Cashew Nuts Farmers/Producers and Marketers for Export Intentions, in Enugu State. He said that most cashew trees in the country are between 30 and 40 years old, adding that most of them had been caught up with aging attributes and signs. According to him, the yield of the cashew tree keeps decreasing today and that the quality and size of fruits and nuts keeps shrinking, adding that pests easily attack them due to aging attributes. “There is the need to begin new and fresh cashew plantations to replace all the aging cashew trees, even as the cashew business is becoming a big time local and export business. “We have improved and high-yield cashew seedling that only takes 18 months to mature and it starts producing fruits and cashew nuts as well. “People or communities that have these aging cashew plants can replace them with the improved and high-yield seedlings. “While those other communities or individuals that want to come into the business can also cultivate this improved and high-yield cashew seedlings as well,” he said. Chawla also stressed the need for cashew farming to be done in an organic form, devoid of chemicals, additive and impurity inputs. This, he said, would make for cashew produce (nut, apple and other extractive) to be fit for human consumption and get international trade certification easily. “Cashew business is a big and serious business, which requires that the farmer or those tending the trees ensure best practice. “They must be careful in activities going on in the cashew plantations or trees in order to ensure that the cashew produce is not contaminated and made unfit for international export,” he said. The country representative said that the company was in Nigeria to ensure continuous training for farmers to get the right planting system and right international result and certification. “Valency International is ready to organise continuous training, both inside and outside the field (farms). “This is to ensure that Nigerian farmers get it right, get value for money and the country earns foreign exchange through nut, apple (flesh) and other important extract from cashew,” he said. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day training has cashew farmers and those intending to go into cashew farming in the state. NAN also reports that the training is being organised by Que-Machano Nigeria Limited, in collaboration with Valency International Agro Limited and Udoamaka Diogbe Farmers Multi-purpose Cooperative Society Limited.