The GIZ Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew), an international development project in the cashew value chain, has renewed its commitment to holistic transformation of Ghana’s cashew sub-sector.
To this end, the organisation is in the process of assisting the revival of seven defunct cashew processing companies in the country to boost competitiveness in the value addition space. Of the13 existing cashew processing factories in the country, with total production capacity of about 65,000 metric tonnes, only two are currently in operation: the rest have all shut down.
Financial constraints, obsolete machinery and processing technology, as well as lack of access to substantial quantities of raw cashew nuts (RCNs) at a competitive price have culminated in collapse of the factories. Even with two which are currently in business, they [USIBRAS Ghana Limited in Prampram, and Mim Cashew and Agricultural Products Ltd.] are producing below installed capacities. The situation has fuelled the export of RCNs, thus denying the country benefits of cashew processing such as creation of employment opportunities and extra income.
Mrs. Juliana Ofori-Karikari, Finance & Adminstration Manager-GIZ/ComCashew said: “We are working with processors in Ghana to revive that cashew sub-sector. GIZ/ComCashew is providing support to the Association of Cashew Processing Companies in the area of human capacity development and helping them to acquire state-of-the-art processing equipment”.
This, she stated, is in line with the main objective of GIZ/ComCashew to increase the competitiveness of African cashew production and processing. The project does so by investing in capacity building for smallholder farmers, processors and other actors in the value chain while contributing to building sustainable supply chain linkages between value chain actors.
She disclosed this to B&FT on the sidelines of a technical skills upgrading programme for Training Providers from Agricultural Training Institutions on cashew. The five-day programme for the 72 participants is to ensure that tutors from Agricultural Training Institutes are equipped with the requisite knowledge and capacities in cashew value chain.
GIZ/ComCashew project focus countries are Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’lvoire, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. GIZ/ComCashew has been in operational in Ghana for over ten years and is aspiring to witness increasing national and international attention and priority given to the cashew value chain and its potential.
Its vision for cashew processing is very laudable, in the sense that it adding value to RCNs has many potential benefits to the country’s cashew sub-sector and economy at large. It will be a vehicle to create more jobs, especially for women, as well as increase export earnings from the cash crop. Even in the present state of shipping out raw nuts, cashew is the leading non-traditional export commodity. In 2018 cashew raked in over US$378million, representing 34% of the total revenue from non-traditional export (NTE) commodities.
The future of the cashew looks quite bright per the continuous development partners’ support as well as government interventions. Passage of the Tree Crops Development Authority Act (Act 1010) and the soon to be established Authority for regulating the industry reinforces some level of hope. Meanwhile, government through the ‘Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD)’ initiative is also supporting the development and distribution of about five (5) million improved cashew seedlings to farmers in 2020. This is expected help boost the crop’s production base.