Gov’t exploring international collaboration to boost local cashew processing

Seth Osei Akoto, Crops Services Director-MoFA

In pursuance of transforming the local cashew industry by scaling up cashew processing, government is exploring international collaborations with development partners for technical and financial support.

To this end, government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is looking to leverage cooperation with countries such as Germany through the GIZ (Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew), Switzerland-State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Brazilian government to boost local processing of cashew kernels, apples, and nut-shells.

“With the aim of increasing local processing for cashew kernels, apples and shells, the ministry is working together with other stakeholders like GIZ/ComCashew, SECO and Brazil to provide technical and financial support to local processors,” Director of Crop Services-MoFA, Seth Osei Akoto has revealed.

There are 14 cashew processing factories in the country, with a total installed capacity of 65,000 metric tonnes. Of the existing cashew factories, ten are currently active with a combined capacity of about 46,000mt; the rest have shut down for various reasons, such as difficulty in accessing affordable raw cashew nuts and financial constraints.

According to GIZ/ComCashew, only 10 percent of the raw cashew nuts produced across the African continent are processed locally. The remaining 90 percent of RCNs are exported for further processing – leaving a great economic potential for many African countries like Ghana, largely untapped.

Cashew processing units in Ghana, like other African producing countries, largely focus on processing kernels as the greater proportion of apples are left to rot. For instance, the cashew apple has huge potential to be processed into products such as juices, jams, syrups, wine, beer and brandy.

Mr. Akoto is optimistic that effective collaborations with development partners for a sustainable and well-functioning cashew processing sub-sector will boost the capacities of local processors to adequately process a greater part of the estimated 120,000mt of raw cashew nuts that Ghana currently produces.

A trilateral cooperation among Ghana, Germany and Brazil, seeking to boost cashew apple processing and marketing has already paid off, as 200 farmers and artisanal processors have been trained to produce cashew products like juice, jam and jelly among others, he added.

“These farmers and artisanal processors’ capacities have also been built on food safety practices, Quality Standards and warehousing. It is interesting to note that processors like Mim Cashew and USIBRAS are also processing the cashew nut-shell into Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL), which is used extensively in the paint and petroleum industries; and in the production of insecticides, among other products,” he said.

The MoFA Crop Services Director made these remarks during a virtual address to the final session of the 11th edition of the Master Training Programme (MTP) on cashew value chain promotion, held in Sunyani.

The third session of the MTP focuses on cashew harvest & post-harvest practices, value addition through cashew kernel and by-product processing, and other cross-cutting issues like sector analysis and cashew marketing among others.

Generally, the Cashew MTP seeks to enhance the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of cashew experts along the value chain, and consequently to further promote competitiveness and profitability in the country and the sub-region at large.

The GIZ ComCashew Executive Director, Rita Weidinger, in an interview called for concerted efforts to develop the current niche cashew processing sub-sector into an industrial one. She said the sub-sector is bedevilled with logistical constraints, thus impeding large-scale processing – adding that more specialised food scientists must also be trained to help ensure food safety, while collaborations with the Trade Ministry and Ghana Export Promotion Authority are needed now more than ever.

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