The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has expressed optimism of reaping a significant increase in cashew export earnings, targeting over US$250million from international trade of the commodity in 2018.
Cashew is currently the leading agricultural non-traditional export (NTE) earner. In 2016, it fetched the country US$197million, representing 53% of the total export revenue generated by agricultural NTE.
“The expectation results from commencement of the mass spraying exercise being funded by government,” Mr. Adjei Yeboah, Director for Cashew-GEPA, told the B&FT.
In December last year, the GEPA launched a pilot mass spraying and distribution of grafted seedlings programme at Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region. The exercise is targetted at spraying about 70,000 acres annually, and is expected to increase yield by 30%. Approximately, current production level is around 70,000 metric tonnes.
He said the short-term objective of the authority is to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to implement strategic policies, aimed at increasing the production of raw cashew nuts (RCN). “Once we are able to increase production exponentially, it will give us the impetus to prioritise and scale up processing of RCN as well.”
Mr. Yeboah spoke to the B&FT during a presentation of spraying machines and insecticides to farmers in the Jaman North district.
The presentation was in response to an appeal by farmers in the area for help in dealing with the invasion of their farms by destructive pests – ‘aeroplane and mosquito bugs’.
The pests are said to have infested virtually all cashew farms in the Brong Ahafo Region.
The DCE for Jaman North, Adane Ankomah, received the items on behalf of the farmers. He thanked GEPA and the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana (CIAG) for their quick response to the SOS call. He revealed that the District Assembly has also agreed to offer yearly financial support to aid farmers spray their farms.
The Executive Secretary of CIAG, Aaron Akyea, allayed the fears of farmers by saying: “Going forward, the spraying exercise will mitigate any negative impact on production”. The association, together with MoFA and other institutions, has been running a series of training programmes for farmers on best agronomic practices – such as pest control, he stated.
He urged farmers to join various local cooperatives in order to benefit from subsequent interventions, because it is easier for CIAG to reach out to farmers through recognised unions.