African cashew experts, numbering about 80, have converged in Sunyani for the second session of the 7th Edition of Master Training Programme on Cashew Value Chain Promotion.
The participants were selected from nine countries – Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The master training’s focus is on how to expand of the crop’s production base through the development of improved planting materials and good agricultural practices (GAP) as catalysts to ensuring sustainable cashew production.
The participants will have access to the Wenchi Agricultural Research Station, where they’ll get an opportunity to experience softwood grafting and other key production-related activities. The session will touch on gender in the cashew value chain, specifically on gender studies and analysis. This is in line with the critical role of women in the cashew value chain, hence the commitment to mainstreaming gender.
Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, George Oduro, in a speech read for him underscored the importance of developing and adapting sustainable strategies to mitigate the increasing challenges emanating from climate change. It is against this backdrop that 98 districts in the Savannah regions – an area that is particularly vulnerable to climate change effects – have been earmarked for the cultivation of cashew, he stated.
“Cashew cultivation will not only mitigate the effect of climate change but also serve as an alternative source of income for the local economies. Looking at the huge prospects the sector offers, it is essential that the capacities of sector-actors are built. This Master Training Programme therefore comes as a sorely-needed solution,” he said.
The Deputy Minister reaffirmed government’s commitment to ensuring a well-developed and organised cashew sector, hence its soon to be inaugurated Tree Crops Development Authority to spearhead regulation of the sector. “I wish to assure you that government on its part is prepared to do what is possible to support growth and development of the sector, and to ensure that the country can reap maximum benefits from the cashew value chain”.
He indicated: “In line with this goal of increasing local production, government is currently working on the establishment of more nurseries to ensure availability of good planting materials for cashew farmers across the country. Government through its Planting for Export and Rural Development also seeks to engage the youth in cashew production; and this, it is hoped, will contribute to solving the problem of unemployment in the country”.
Madam Juliana Ofori-Karikari of Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew), on her part said in an effort to boost the activities of cashew production, a matching grant has been established to support the production of high-quality grafted cashew seedlings, and urged farmers to take advantage of the grant to expand productivity and earn higher incomes as well as help actors in the value chain to have better market access.
She alluded to huge job creation potential in the cashew sector through competitiveness and other activities along the value chain, saying: “Until now, over 530,000 jobs have been created in production – specifically through the intervention of GIZ ComCashew and its partners”.