The investments will be anchored on the implementation of a 10-Year National Cashew Development Plan which will set out a broad framework to ultimately expand the production of cashew from the current 55,000 tonnes to 200,000 tonnes per annum.
The GEPA has consequently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the cashew umbrella body, the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana (CIAG) made up of a number of industry groupings and a consultant, BLC.
The MoU will allow the GEPA to provide the leadership role in promoting and developing the cashew industry, while setting out the framework for collaboration among various actors and stakeholders to develop the industry.
Value chain development
The Chief Executive Officer of the GEPA, Mrs Gifty Kekeli Klenam, who signed the MoU on behalf of the authority, said the investments would be channelled into the entire value chain of cashew production.
That would include research and development; supply of quality inputs; technology and agronomic support to farmers; marketing and promotion of the crop, and ultimately boost local production of the crop which demand on the world market had been increasing by 10 per cent annually, against a six per cent annual increase in production.
Board and Fund
She said the GEPA would collaborate with the Ministries of Food and Agriculture and Trade and Industry to set up a National Cashew Development Board and a Cashew Development Fund, both as part of the 10-year development plan.
“The uniqueness of this development plan is that it shall be public-private partnership based and have the involvement of fund managers with professional expertise in credit evaluation, monitoring and recovery,” Mrs Klenam said.
The fund, which would be channelled to support research and development, farmers, processors and all actors in the cashew value chain, would be resourced with a levy on proceeds from the export of raw cashew nuts in line with international standards.
The GEPA CEO called on all partners, particularly development finance institutions such as the African Development Bank, the Bank of Ghana, the Ghana EXIM Bank, the African Cashew Association, as well as commercial banks to come on board and support the plan when launched.
MoFA on board
The Director of Crop Services at MoFA, Mr Seth Osei Akoto, said his ministry implemented a five-year development plan which boosted the industry to chalk some successes, adding that the platform was even bigger now for the development and promotion of cashew since the government had selected the crop as an alternative cash crop to focus on besides the Planting for Food and Jobs programme.
Mr Akoto said efforts to establish a board had also been ongoing as Cabinet had already approved it, adding that the MoU would provide the needed impetus to firm up a road map for further developing the cashew industry.
The President of the CIAG, Mr Winfred Osei Owusu, who also signed on behalf of the cashew industry players, said the crop had more prospects than other cash crops the country produced, saying the global demand increased by 300,000 tonnes annually, translating into about $500 million.
He said the crop generated employment on a large-scale and served as food security crop by providing farmers capital they would require to plant food crops, hence helped in developing the rural economy.
“For all these reasons, it has become very important that the nation looks at cashew seriously because of its potential. We have been advocating a national policy and plan different from the touch and go approach,” Mr Owusu stated.
The CIAG had, therefore, been advocating key building blocks to drive the industry which included an authority to oversee the development of the industry, regulation and a fund to support the industry, the president of CIAG added.