Sunyani is playing host to eleven cashew producing African countries which are members of the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), for a master training programme designed to promote the cashew value chain in Africa.
Sunyani, which is the capital city of the Brong Ahafo Region, is the perfect place for Ghana to host the five-day conference since that part of the country is noted for its cashew abundance.
The conference, a collaborative effort by ACA and the Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) and supported by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), as well as the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), is meant to share knowledge and best practices.
Early in the year, President Nana Akufo-Addo launched a 10-year Cashew Development plan to revamp the industry as part of measures to diversify the country’s agriculture sector.
This follows the growing importance of cashew as the country’s leading non-traditional export commodity that fetched US$197 million in 2016.
It was in the same year, 2016, that the ACA announced that Africa was the largest producer of cashew nuts in the world with an annual production of 1.2 million tons.
In spite of this, only 15 percent of Africa’s output is processed locally and this has to change. We have to add value to our cashew, which will enable us reap far more than we are doing by only exporting raw nuts.
Deputy Minister, MoFA, Kennedy Osei Nyarko, underscored government’s commitment to investing resources into research and improved planting materials to boost production and increase productivity. Let this not be the usual lip-service our politicians and technocrats alike pay to doing things that need be done to turn our fortunes around.
With climate change here to stay, it is important to research into drought resistant varieties of the tree crops, if we are to ensure the commodity remains a key non-traditional foreign exchange earner.
The CRIG and other research institutes must be given the needed resources to boost research activities so that we can generate improved trees that are climate smart and drought resistant to maintain high value cashew products.