All other things being equal, a proposed levy on selected tree crops is expected to generate about US$10million in its first year of implementation.
The proposed levy by the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) will be paid by buyers, exporters and processors of the affected agro commodities while farmers and small aggregators are exempted. The crops involved are cashew, mango, shea, coconut, oil palm and rubber.
In an interview with B&FT the CEO of TCDA, Williams Agyapong Quaitttoo, said the levy is an aspect of a broader regulatory framework currently under consideration by the TCDA Board of Directors and for subsequent approval by Cabinet and Parliament respectively.
“Proceeds from the soon to be implemented levy will among others help generate substantial funds to cushion sustainable growth and development of the tree crops industry. There will be funds to sustain and expand distribution of inputs like improved seeds and seedlings to farmers, and accelerate research as well,” he revealed.
Mr. Quaitttoo was speaking on the side-lines of the maiden annual conference of Progressive Cashew Association of Ghana held at Techiman, the Bono East regional capital. The conference’s theme was ‘Beyond the traditional cashew farming and exporting’. As a prelude to the 2022 cashew season, in attendance at the forum were the various actors and stakeholders along the value chain.
According to the CEO of TCDA, the proposed regulatory regime will also make provisions for the registration and efficient regulation of activities for all input dealers; such as tree crops agro-chemical dealers as well as nursery operators and seed-sellers.
This, he explained, will promote sanity in the system to ensure that only quality agro products are supplied to unsuspecting farmers to protect their investments, the environment and mankind.
“The era when anybody at all gets up and sells agro chemicals for tree crops, nurse seedlings for commercial sale will soon be a thing of the past. Only qualified and certified persons will be permitted to trade in agro-chemicals, nurse approved seed-nuts for sale. Anybody who falls foul of the law will be dealt with accordingly,” he stressed.
Mr. Quaitttoo entreated the cashew value chain actors to uphold the GH¢5 per kilogramme minimum price set by the Authority. “In as much as farmers expect buyers to purchase their nuts at the approved price, you are also required to dry the nuts to reduce the moisture content to10% or lower. You must therefore avoid the practice of selling raw nuts at farm gates.”
Cashew replacing food crops and cocoa
Commenting on the issue of some farmers replacing food crops and cocoa with cashew on their farms, the Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Yaw Frimpong Addo, allayed fears of any imminent food insecurity and loss of foreign exchange earnings.
In recent times, some farmers in the Bono, Bono East and parts of the Ashanti and Ahafo Regions have replaced crops like cocoa, cassava, maize and plantain with cashew plantations.
“The substitution of food crops with cashew hasn’t gotten to an alarming proportion that threatens the country’s food security. Besides, the success story of Planting for Food and Jobs has fortified our food security status. With the cutting-down of cocoa for cashew, the country will ultimately continue to enjoy its foreign exchange earnings as they are all cash crops; there shouldn’t be any cause for alarm,” he said.
Treasurer of the Progressive Cashew Association of Ghana, Simon Berko, commended government for establishing the much-awaited TCDA to help regulate and promote sustainable development of the tree crops industry.
He advised cashew value chain actors to adhere to all to accepted standards, such as scaling by the Ghana Standard Authority to promote industrial harmony and development.