The price of cashew has reduced significantly, causing disaffection among farmers in the main cashew growing areas of the country’s middle belt.
B&FT sources indicate that a bag of raw cashew nuts (100kg) which was quoted at GH¢800 during the peak period in the 2018 season, is currently being sold for GH¢200, representing a sharp reduction of 75%.
The prevailing situation has caused some frustrated farmers who do not have storage facilities to leave the commodity to rot on the farms, as they claim it is not businesswise to trade at the current price as per the high labour cost of picking the nuts as well as carting it to sales points.
B&FT gathered that some buyers have expressed concern about the high moisture content of the RCN and ‘low’ grade of the nuts. But briefing journalists at Seikwa in the Tain district of Bono Region, Solomon Ameyaw – Secretary of Tain Cashew Union, argued that the buyers always hide behind flimsy reasons to manipulate the market.
“They raised these issues last year and farmers have taken it upon themselves to dry the nuts before selling – but it has not changed the posture of buyers,” Ameyaw said.
He said the buyers – mostly exporters – have the leeway to skew prices to the disadvantage of ‘helpless farmers’ due to the free market system. He attributed the cashew market manipulation to lack of a regulatory body to ensure fairness in the commodity trade, urging government to fast-track establishment of the Tree and Industrial Crops Development Authority to salvage the situation.
President Akufo-Addo, during his recent tour of the Ahafo and Bono East Regions, announced that the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has completed its framing of the much-awaited tree and Industrial Crops Development Authority. The draft bill, he said, is expected to be laid in Parliament soon.
The proposed Authority will among others have the mandate to accelerate the production and marketing of tree crops including cashew, mango, rubber, oil palm and coffee. This is expected to enhance the country’s earnings from non-traditional exports.
Mr. Ameyaw also appealed for government to ensure thorough implementation of the 10-year cashew development plan. According to him, implementers of the cashew blueprint “are sleeping on the job. Not much is happening in the area of grafting and distribution of seedlings to farmers so as to expand production”.
A farmer, Enoch Tano, on his part advocated swift revival of defunct cashew processing plants in the country to promote competitive buying as well as create more jobs. Of the twelve cashew processing companies in the Ahafo, Bono and Bono East Regions, eleven have shut down operations – leaving only one in the business.