The African Cashew Alliance (ACA), a strategic partner in developing the African cashew industry, says it is working toward revamping five cashew processing factories in Ghana, through provision and restoration of machinery for the companies.
“The ACA will assist four and one collapsed cashew processing factories in the Brong Ahafo and Greater Accra Regions respectively to acquire state-of-the-art machinery and technology to start operations again,” Kingsley Mensah, Finance and Administration Manager of ACA, has stated.
Of the13 existing cashew processing factories in the country with total production capacity of about 65,000 metric tonnes, only two are currently in operation; the rest have all shut down. Financial constraints, obsolete machinery and technology, as well as lack of access to substantial quantities of raw cashew nuts (RCNs) at a competitive price have culminated in collapse of the factories.
The ACA, he stated, is committed to assisting the processing factories address the issue of lacking access to finance through the development of business plans and sensitisating banks about economic potentials in the cashew industry to whet their appetite.
“On the issue of access to RCNs, for now, what should be considered is means and how to retain enough to feed processing factories to sustain their operations. It is important to look at a mixture of all relevant policies: like export levies, export restrictions and a significant increase in production among others to satisfy all actors in the industry.”
Mr. Mensah was speaking to the B&FT on the sidelines of the second session at the sixth edition of the Master Training Programme on Cashew Value Chain Promotion held in Sunyani. The five-day confab brought together 86 cashew experts from seven countries -Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique and Sierra Leone.
Earlier, in an address, he said the ACA provides and supports the African cashew industry with other important services: such as business advisory, technical services; quality assurance and food safety support services; market information; facilitation of national dialogues; and organising industry events to create a rich platform for stakeholders.
For her part, Juliana Ofori-Karikari of Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) said the Master Training Programme is focused on accelerating sustainable production, saying: “Given that Africa is currently the leading producer of cashew, providing over 50% of the global production, the development of improved planting materials and good agricultural practices are key aspects of ensuring sustainable production.”
Touching on the achievements of its strategic partnerships, she said: “Our intervention has so far created at least 330,000 jobs in the cashew production sector across our operating countries, of which 22% are women”. A trilateral cooperation between ComCashew, MoFA and CRIG has facilitated the production of high quality seedlings, as ComCashew earlier this year provided financial support in producing the first batch of 30,000 grafted seedlings to be distributed in the Ashanti Region, she added.
The outgoing Brong Ahafo Regional Director of MoFA, Dr. Cyril Quist observed that in an effort to increase cashew production, it is important to pay attention certain critical areas such as pests and diseases, issues of best agronomic practices and access to market. He stressed to need to manage the expectations of farmers with regard to market price. “Equilibrium in market prices is needed to enhance industry growth; we need to urge farmers to increase productivity so they can leverage that rather than always anticipating a higher price.”