Editorial : Intense cashew farming threatens biodiversity in forest zones

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Mono-crop culture in modern agricultural terms is the emphasis of crop specialisation. This method of farming is particularly popular in industrialised regions.

However, though increasing yields are vital for having affordable food – particularly as the population is increasing, monoculture farming has some disadvantages you can’t ignore. The worlds long-term food production comes at risk from high use of fertilisers/pesticides; loss of biodiversity, soil fertility; and environmental pollution.

The rapid production of cashew in the country, especially within the forest-transition zone, is consuming sizeable farmlands and thus posing a threat to sustainable production of food crops in the country’s food basket.

The new love for cashew cultivation by farmers in the Bono and Ahafo Regions is fast shrinking farmlands for the production of other food crops such as maize, yam, cassava, groundnut and watermelon. Cashew is a cash crop, a permanent and reliable source of income compared to a food crop like maize; hence, the increasing patronage makes a lot of economic sense.

However, experts are of the view that cultivating cashew in the forest area is not recommendable. Agronomists say cashew grows more vegetative in forest zones, and is unable to fruit well to produce the needed nuts.

That notwithstanding, farmers in forest communities including Bechem, Duayaw-Nkwanta, Atronie and Tepa are busily growing the economic tree crop – particularly as government’s flagship ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development’ (PERD) is aimed at promoting rural economic growth and improving household incomes of rural folk through the cultivation of cash crops such as cashew, mango, shea, cotton, rubber and coffee.

Free distribution of cashew seedlings under PERD by district assemblies has whet the appetite of many to join production of the ‘new gold’. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has taken note of this development and stepped-up efforts to increase food crops productivity per a unit of land to make up the imminent shortfall in production.

We are of the opinion that mono-crop culture as bequeathed to us by the colonialists can be counter-productive in view of the increasing population and the need to produce adequate food crops to meet demand.

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