The cashew processing industry has a huge potential to add significant value to African economies by creating more jobs and wealth through expanding the domestic processing of raw cashew nuts (RCA), the Competitive Cashew Initiative(GIZ/ComCashew) has said,
According to ComCashew, an increase in local cashew processing could among other things create at least an additional 200,000 incremental jobs for local communities, and push the industry’s value to hit over US$3.3billion in future.
Africa, it says, can only harness the full potential of its cashew processing industry if the necessary policies and structures are developed and coordinated to process RCA produced locally on the continent. Currently, the cashew processing industry in Africa is valued at about US$2.2billion.
The continent produces about 56 percent of the total cashew production in the world, but processes less than 10 percent. Over the years, efforts have been made to increase the processing base, thus increasing processing by over 500 percent in the past ten years. But that notwithstanding, the volumes are still too small as per the global consumption growth rate.
The Deputy Executive Director-ComCashew, Mary Adzanyo, has stated that though the contribution of cashew to the development of producing countries cannot be underestimated, challenges of low competitiveness linked with not maximising use of full installed capacities and lack of appropriate policies hinder the industry’s expected growth – hence the need for concerted efforts to transform the industry.
Ms. Adzanyo noted that worldwide consumption of cashew has in the past decade been growing at 7-10 percent annually, with the leading consumers being India, USA and the European Union. The high demand, she noted, provides Africa a huge opportunity for the production and processing of cashew and its by-products.
“Retailers are continually looking for kernels from Africa, due to the advantage of less carbon emissions and environmental sustainability. The sector requires enormous transformation to increase the domestic processing in particular,” she said, thereby entreating African cashew producing countries to come together in order to change the narrative.
Ms. Adzanyo was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Cashew Master Training Programme (MTP) edition 10 session 3 held in Sunyani. The MTP was under the auspices of a partnership between ComCashew and African Cashew Alliance (ACA), with support from MoFA and the Cocoa Research Institute Ghana (CRIG). It has been designed to help increase the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of African cashew experts along the value chain, and further promote competitiveness of the African cashew sector.
As part of the one-week programme, an exhibition was held for Ghanaian entrepreneurs producing cashew apple and nut products. One of the exhibitors, George Nkrumah Sarpong, in an interview with B&FT said the local cashew processing industry is at a crossroad – citing lack of finance as the major challenge hindering growth and development of the industry in the country. He appealed for government to develop more innovative funding schemes, such as financial guarantees to transform agro-processing.
Commenting on the impact of COVID-19 on the business, he said the pandemic’s outbreak caused the company – Gensap Food Processing Company – to cut down its workforce and shelve a business plan for rolling out full automation by 2020. He is however optimistic that with continuous recovery of the economy from the troubles of COVID-19, the business will be resurrected.