The drive to revamp the ailing cashew processing sub-sector continues to gather steam as six raw cashew nut (RCN) processing factories have been selected by development partners for financial assistance.
Currently, there are about nine RCN processing factories in the country with total installed capacity between 50,000-55,000 metric tonnes. The factories are doing less than 40 percent of the combined installed capacity due to plethora of challenges. Besides, other factories have completely shut down. Cashew processors employ some 40,000 persons, at least 70% of whom are women.
Cashew processors face challenges such as financial constraint, unhealthy raw nuts market competition from exporters as well as the use of obsolete industrial equipment.
“Six (6) RCN processors are undergoing auditing for certification under the ACA Seal. A Bankers’ Forum was also organised and some processors are being supported to develop bankable business proposals for equity funding, among others,” Juliana Ofori-Karikari, Project Manager of State of Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), has said.
The Ghanaian Cashew sector she indicated, currently generates about $400 million in revenue from export and employing thousands of people. The interest in cashew production and trade keep rising among the local population. But processing of cashew nuts and by-product remain a huge investment opportunity, yet untapped, thus requires considerable effort and support to gross even more revenue, she added.
The potentials in the cashew industry have been the motivation of development partners like SECO, BMZ and GIZ/ComCashew to support the development of an enabling environment for its value chain actors.
Mrs. Ofori-Karikari said” “SECO, BMZ and GIZ/ComCashew have shown commitment to supporting the development of the cashew sector in Ghana over the years. To create an enabling environment for value chain actors, the Development Partners together with ACA supported the processes leading up to the establishment of the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA), a body which is charged with regulating the tree crops sector and ensuring that robust policies are formulated and implemented for the benefit of all stakeholders.”
She was addressing the fourth annual general meeting and strategic planning engagement of the Association of Cashew Processors Ghana (ACPG) held in Sunyani.
The event focused primarily on activities leading to the curving of a new 5-year strategic plan and how to put in place an effective governance structure to oversee enhanced effectiveness and the sustainability of cashew processing in order to play an effective role in support of government’s drive to value addition to the country’s raw material resources.
The SECO Project Manager urged ACPG to work hand in hand with various stakeholders to come up with innovative ideas and strategies on how to fulfil the dream of sustaining cashew processing in the country. She also called on the TCDA to come out with policies that will transform cashew processing in Ghana as processing volumes remain low despite high demand for cashew kernels locally and globally.
On his part, the President of the Association of Cashew Processors Ghana, Ed-Malvin Nii Ayibontey Smith, described the future of cashew processing in the country “very bright” once certain hurdles are crossed.
“Once investments come in, if we are able to replenish some of our old machines and move into the new technology so that efficiency can be built up. If we have government support in a direction that we are going through the TCDA-create an enabling environment and a fair playing field when it comes to cashew marketing. Cashew processors need adequate and long-term financing to help process all from the commodity, including the by-products,” he said.
Mr. Smith however pointed out that the failure to address the numerous challenges in the medium term will collapse cashew processing factories again, saying: “If we are not very careful we’ll go back to where we were five years ago; the whole cashew processing industry collapsed. Thanks to SECO, ACA and GIZ/ComCashew, we have made some gains and they must be supported to sustain it.”