Editorial : Tree Crops Authority should address challenges in cashew sector

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Cashew

Last year, President Akufo-Addo inaugurated the Ghana Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) to develop and promote tree crops other than cocoa to diversify the country’s agriculture.

However, the Bono Regional Minister-designate, Justina Owusu-Banahene, taking her turn at the vetting of the Appointments Committee of Parliament last week stated that the existing poor pricing regime for cashew is negatively affecting production of the cash crop.

Conditions of cashew farmers have worsened as the result of absence of a pricing regime and the role of intermediaries for the non-traditional export product, she observed. Consequently, Mrs. Owusu-Banahene pledged her commitment to pushing a pricing regime for cashew nuts when given the nod.

The Bono East, Bono and the Ahafo Regions are replete with cashew plantations, but the prevailing situation is affecting farmers’ and people’s interest in cashew production. In fact, in the last few years it has become impossible to talk of development for the agricultural sector without mentioning cashew.

The cashew sector’s growth has positioned Ghana as one of the largest producers of raw cashew nuts in Africa. However, over 98% of Ghana’s cashew nuts are exported in their raw form to India and Vietnam. The nuts are processed and re-exported to the US, Europe, the Middle East, China and Australia.

According to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), cashew is the leading non-traditional export (NTE) commodity in the country. Statistics indicate that in 2018 cashew fetched the country US$378.21million, representing a 43.84 percent increase from US$263.95million in 2017. The bulk of these export earnings was derived from shipment of raw nuts.

One area in the cashew value chain that remains underutilied is processing in the country. Cashew processing in country is bedevilled with a plethora of challenges. The situation has forced some of the companies to halt business, while the rest operate below their installed capacities.

Access to raw cashew nuts for processing has been the main challenge faced by processors. There is unhealthy competition for the raw commodity. Foreigners always flood the local market, creating unhealthy competition to push the price of raw nuts up – to the disadvantage of processors.

We believe the absence of a national policy on cashew is the major bane of the industry. It is highly anticipated that the Tree Crops Development Authority will help develop such a specific policy for the sector to thrive.

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