The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has today launched the much awaited ’10-year Cashew Development Policy’ as a move toward positioning cashew crop as an agriculture goldmine.
According to the President who highlighted the importance of cashew production to the Ghanaian economy, cashew, together with other selected crops, can create wealth and jobs for Ghanaians.
Launching the new 10-year development plan for the cashew industry in the Brong Ahafo Region, Nana Addo said the plan is expected to provide the needed support and road map to making cashew one of Ghana’s number one export crops like the cocoa.
“With this plan, we will be able to create employment in the value chain as producers, marketers, distributors among others will be engaged in processing of the crop. This, together with other programmes of other selected export crops, will drive industrialisation in rural Ghana, diversify agricultural products and provide the needed jobs for the teeming masses of unemployed youth of this country.”
The President also added that, “I will urge the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) to incorporate in this plan policies and interventions that will create additional businesses and job opportunities in the areas of storage, transport and packaging of cashew, which will ensure that our cashew farmers earn higher income.”
He assured the public of government’s commitment to the implementation of the plan in addition to other programmes to propel the growth of the cashew industry. The plan let me say also takes into account governments support for the country’s cashew industry and the required infrastructure for the sector and seeks to improve research methods, introduce appropriate production and processing technologies as well as develop marketing strategies along the value chain
Cashew is currently Ghana’s leading agricultural non-traditional export (NTE), generating about US$197million in 2016, and representing 53 percent of the US$371million earnings from the total agricultural NTE sub-sector.
According to available statistics, the country produces between 50,000 to 70, 0000mt of raw cashew nuts annually.
In spite of the unduly lower share of investment in the country’s cashew production sector from government, the sector still holds much potential as it is seen to be one of the most promising economic boosters – capable of generating between US$400 and US$500million revenue for the country and improving livelihoods of many rural women farmers.
Undoubtedly, cashew production and the entire value chain is seen as a viable and profitable business venture, with industry players describing it as an agricultural goldmine if well-harnessed.
With this development, the country can’t afford not to take advantage of the huge opportunity that exists within the cashew sector and its value chain.
The sector currently has 12 processing factories within the country, with a processing capacity of 60,000 metric tonnes (mt), while the country produces approximately 70,000mt of raw cashew nuts (RCN).
This deficit – among other challenges, stakeholders say – calls for an effective dialogue between government and agencies responsible for implementing policies that will help promote the sector.
Cashew production in the country is mostly carried out by smallholder framers (90%).
The past nine years experienced a growing interest in cultivation of the nuts, due largely to high demand and flourishing export markets. Approximately 75,000 farmers in the country are engaged in cashew cultivation, with most farmers located in the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Ashanti and Volta Regions.
Mr Akufo-Addo urged industry players to capitalise on the opportunities in the value chain of the crop and make it beneficial to farmers.
(by Norvan Acquah-Hayford)