Ghana bets on cashews

Recounting a commitment he made in 2016, at Suma Ahenkro, in the Jaman North constituency, the President said it was high time the agriculture sector shifted its over-reliance on the production and export of cocoa, in contrast with its neighbour Cote d’Ivoire. He noted that Cote d’Ivoire has succeeded in diversifying its agriculture, which included the production and export of other cash crops, and, as a result, earned that country some $12 billion from the export of agricultural produce in 2015.

“To that end, I reiterated my commitment to assist in diversifying Ghanaian agriculture, and transforming, amongst others, cashew into a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner for Ghana. This morning’s event, ladies and gentlemen, is the beginning of the realisation of this vision,” the President said. Highlighting the success of the first year of the Programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, which led to an increase in the production of staples, as well as the creation of thousands of jobs in the rural economy, President Akufo-Addo noted that this development has encouraged government to increase the scope of the programme.

“The Programme is expanding its focus not only to the production of staples but also to the development and production of some selected crops such as cashew, oil palm, rubber, shea, cotton and coffee, for good reason,” he said.

The President noted that two out of the top five cashew producing and exporting countries can be found in West Africa, i.e. Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, countries that have the same geography and topography as that of Ghana.

Therefore, as part of the Plan to boost the production of cashew, the Rural Development Department of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, together with the Food and Agriculture Ministry is spearheading the initial production of seedlings for the cultivation of cashew in the country.

“Under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) project, all 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives have been given oversight responsibility for the production of not only cashew seedlings, but also for seedlings of oil palm, shea, cotton, rubber and coffee, for distribution to farmers from next year,” the President said.

He continued, “The seedlings, once distributed, and planted by farmers, will ensure that more rural jobs will be created, in addition to an increase in yield. The potential for further job creation down the value chain through agro-processing is enormous.”

Again, towards the improvement of the country’s current yield, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority commissioned a cashew mass spraying exercise, in Wenchi, involving the provision of GH¢1.6 million for the spraying of some 30,000 hectares of cashew plantation. This is expected to increase cashew production for this crop year by some 30%.

Executive Secretary of the Cashew Industries Association of Ghana (CIAG), Elorm Akyea, has identified bush fire as a threat to the survival of cashew farming in the country.

According to him, bush fires can destroy large acres of cashew farms within few minutes, and so local farmers are being educated on the need to halt bush fires.

He also indicated that the inability of local processors to acquire modern equipment for the processing of the nuts is also threatening the sector.

“At the moment, only two processors which are foreign owned are in operation. The remaining eleven that belong to local investors have all collapsed,’ he said.

His comments come after President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 launched the 10-year development plan for the cashew sector.
According to the president, cashew, together with other selected crops, can create wealth and jobs for Ghanaians.

Mr Akufo-Addo, said: “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 plan will take into account government support for the country’s cashew industry and the required infrastructure for the sector.

Mr Akufo-Addo urged industry players to capitalise on the opportunities in the value chain of the crop and make it beneficial to farmers.

“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,” the president said.

It also seeks to improve research methods, introduce appropriate production and processing technologies as well as develop marketing strategies along the value chain.

Speaking on this development in an interview with Chief Jerry Forson host of the Ghana Yensom on Accra 100.5FM on Wednesday, 21 February 2018, Mr Akyea said: “The lack of proper planting materials is a problem, bush fire is a problem, lack of money for the farmers to work with is a challenge. The banks are not giving loans because the sector is a high risk area. Thieves are also stealing nuts.”

He added: “We have about 13 processors in this country but all the processors have not been functioning for the past two years and we don’t know when they’ll work. All the 13 have collapsed apart from two which are foreign.”

GHANA’S President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has launched a 10-year cashew development plan in Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region.

AT the event the President expressed his government’s determination to diversify agriculture by transforming, among other things, cashew into a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner. THE aim of the cashew Development Plan (2017-2027) fashioned by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GERA), in collaboration with the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana (CIAG), is to expand the present production of raw cashew nuts (RCN) from 70,000 tonnes (MT) to 300,000 tonnes by 2017. CURRENTLY, cashew is the country’s leading agricultural non-traditional export, accounting for 197 million United States dollars of revenue in 2016.