Nigerian tiger nuts have high potential in becoming the next major cash crop, along with the likes of ginger and sesame. With its distinctive wrinkled surface, hence the name “tiger nuts,” it is not actually a nut, but categorized as a tuber.
In Nigeria, tiger nuts are mainly sold domestically as a local snack, and hold multiple nutritional benefits; from reducing cholesterol to aiding digestion. It also holds high levels of oleic acids and fiber, which has brought the attention of those looking for alternatives to growing soybeans for biodiesel as well as animal feed.
Tiger nuts are a year-round crop in Nigeria. Once harvested by farmers, it is sold to local brokers or cooperatives, which is then processed depending on its final form as flour, oil, or milk. This is then handed over to exporters, as cooperatives do not play a role in the export process. Stone Trade Networks Ltd. is one of the few exporting companies in Nigeria which is readily available for tiger nuts exports. The market still remains largely untapped, and it has been just a few years since exports have started to take place.
As a niche market, pricing for tiger nuts largely depends on the export demand, but according to Stone Trade Networks Ltd, prices are relatively stable, compared to other products such as sesame seeds. Tiger nuts see minor fluctuations in their prices of 10-15%, with a lower price range than other major crops like cashews.
Tiger nuts in the global market are usually associated with Spain, due to the popularity of its famous drink, the Horchata. The main differences between the Spanish and Nigerian tiger nuts are known to be its color, in which Nigerian ones are darker, and its size, as the Nigerian tiger nut is available in smaller and larger sizes. Nigeria is not far behind in catching up with Spain as a leader in tiger nuts production; with its low cost of production and exporters eager to expand to the global stage.
Stone Trade Networks Ltd. aims to integrate the value chain by eliminating middlemen and stabilizing prices. With larger export demand, the company plans to have an automated processing system, while encouraging local farmers to see the value of tiger nuts.