Amid disruptions to the international cashew trade and market by the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is making efforts to adopt pragmatic steps for transforming the domestic cashew sub-sector to be more competitive.
The ministry looks to strategic collaborations with development partners like GIZ (Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) to improve local processing, consumption and export of cashew kernel so as to increase profitability of the various value chain actors.
The global cashew trade has been disrupted by COVID-19 in 2020. Closure of borders across the world and other trade restrictive factors forced giants in the cashew trade – India and Vietnam – to reduce imports of raw cashew nuts (RCN) from Africa, thus affecting the price in producing countries.
Continental industry body, the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) projected that Africa’s raw cashew exports could fall up to 30% below 1.2 million tonnes exported last year, while output may be up to 10% below around 2 million tonnes produced in 2019 as disillusioned farmers leave some crops unharvested.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Ghana to intensify its potential in cashew processing to meet domestic needs and export, and also regulate and develop a sustainable environment for the production and trading of cashew. This is what the Tree Crops Development Authority Act seeks to do,” Seth Osei Akoto, Director of Crop Services-MoFA, has said.
Within the COVID-19 era, MoFA has already supported seven indigenous cashew processing factories that were hitherto shut down to bounce back. There are about 14 cashew processing factories in the country, with total installed capacity of about 65,000 metric tonnes. Most of these companies closed down due to fierce competition with exporters for RCN, but COVID-19 and its resultant RCN export difficulties has made the raw material available for local processors.
In a virtual address to the eleventh session of Cashew Master Training Programme on cashew value chain promotion in Sunyani, Mr. Akoto underscored the cashew sub-sector’s importance to national development and therefore implored all stakeholders to put their shoulders to the wheel in order to ‘salvage’ it from the predicaments hat COVID-19 has imparted to the sub-sector.
He commended GIZ ComCashew for its invaluable commitment and support to the development of cashew industry in the country, especially with the advent of COVID-19 by donating personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential items to cashew value chain actors across the producing regions.
GIZ Country Director, Regina Bauerochse Barbosa, also in a virtual speech said the organisation will continue to support the development agenda of Ghana, particularly in this uncertain period of coronavirus. “GIZ keeps positioning itself to contribute toward Ghana’s development. Cashew is more strongly present in Ghana’s agricultural development plans such as Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) policy and the Tree Crops Development Act.”
The five-day Master Training Programme brought together 60 cashew experts selected from across the country. The training seeks to enhance the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of the cashew experts along the value chain, and consequently to further promote he competitiveness in the industry.
The training covered the cashew value chain concept, the dynamics of the cashew market and development of training materials. It was organised by GIZ ComCashew in collaboration with ACA, and support from MoFA and the Cocoa Research Institute Ghana (CRIG).