From poor pricing, waste of cashew fruits, lack of regional offices for the cashew industry, a legislator, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu Adjare, is calling on the Parliament of Ghana to urge the Government to do more to develop the crop and allied industries.
Detailing data on the performance of the crop, Mrs Ofosu Adjare, who represents the people of Techiman North Constituency, said the Tree Crop Development Authority Act, passed two years ago must be made more forceful through better cashew production, pricing mechanism, and offices in the regions.
“Mr. Speaker, the time to act is now. As a country making every effort to consolidate our gains to sustain our middle-income status, it is incumbent on us to take advantage of the prospect we have,” Mrs Ofosu Adyare, said in a statement on the floor of Parliament, in Accra.
She added: “I, therefore, pray the august House to urge the government to as matter of urgency constitute regional offices to oversee the progress of the cashew industry, for employment generation and expansion of the economy for the development of mother Ghana.
The statement, titled “The Enactment of the Tree Crop Development Act and the Elusive Pricing Regulatory Regime in Ghana” noted that despite the passage of the Tree Crop Development Authority Act, 2019 (Act 1010) and it being gazetted, the Authority was not present in the regions as required by the Act.
Act 1010 further provides for the establishment of regional offices of the Authority, and in spite of its Board being constituted, cashew price remains unregulated.
Also, the Authority, the MP said, was not present in the regions as required by the Act. As a result, cashew farmers, traders, buyers, exporters and processors were still grappling with price volatility in the industry.
The Act provides for the establishment of a Board to be responsible for the development of policies and programmes to regulate the pricing and marketing of tree crops such as cashew.
Pricing, the Techiman North MP said still remained volatile, and “this is not healthy for the development of the cashew industry in Ghana.
She commended the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for distributing some new improved seedlings but cautioned that “if the Authority does not act swiftly on the conundrum surrounding cashew pricing, it may disincentivize farmers to expand its cultivation.
Mrs Adjare noted that the cashew industry in Ghana had seen tremendous expansion over the last 10 years.
African Cashew Initiative, now known as Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew), analysis in 2010 revealed that Ghana exported 61,590 tons of raw cashew nuts valued at US$45.37million in 2008.
Data from Ghana Shippers Authority and Ghana Export Promotion Authority indicated that in 2019, the country exported 394,452 tons of raw cashew nuts valued at US$237,889,169.
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority also reported that cashew was the only agricultural product that made it to the top 10 non-traditional export products with a contribution of 55.29 per cent of the total subsector earnings.
The Techiman North Constituency; the MP said had an estimated 17,624.8 hectares of land in the constituency in cashew production with about 54,405.45 metric tons production per annum.
This contributes to about 52 per cent of farmers’ income.
She called for efforts to be made in the medium term to encourage value addition to cashew nuts before their export to help the country to retain a greater proportion of the value created in the global cashew market.
The MP called on the Government to emulate the La Cote d’Ivoire, which is the largest cashew producer in Africa and put in place policies to support local processing of raw cashew.
These include; subsidy for cashew kernels exported, tax on raw cashew nuts, as well as a government guarantee fund to support processors pre-finance the purchase of raw cashew nuts, and value addition in the Ghanaian cashew sector.
Cashew by-products such as the cashew apple, testa, and cashew nut liquid which are considered agricultural waste and discarded can be commercialized through value addition and can help create employment and diversify the income sources of the cashew farmers.
Dr Godfred Seidu Jasaw, Deputy Ranking Member on the Agriculture Committee of Parliament and MP for Wa East Constituency observed that cashew did well in seven out of the 16 political geographical regions of Ghana.
He called for more efforts to make the crop and its value chain attractive through strategic investment actions. Dr Jasaw said cashew production would also add to the greening of Ghana to improve vegetation to deal with climate change.
Mr Samuel Atta Akyea, MP for Abuakwa South called for cashew production to be made an alternative to cocoa, rather than the latter being fixated on as a main foreign exchange earner.
A unique brand of cashew and packaging of Ghana cashew, he said, should be developed to attract a wider foreign market and money, Mr Akyea suggested.
Mr Andrew Chiwitey, MP for Sawla, suggested that strategies be adopted to attract more youth into cashew production.