Bad post-harvest practices by some farmers and aggregators are fast eroding the country’s credibility as a source of quality cashew nuts, Jerry Anim of the Directorate of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has indicated.
Ideally, the international market requires that cashew nuts are dried to at least 10 percent moisture content in order to meet the kernel outturn ratio (KOR); but some recalcitrant farmers and aggregators are in the habit of not allowing nuts to dry to the desired standards before releasing them onto the market – raising concerns from buyers over the quality of nuts from the country, according to the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA).
Consequently, over the past two years the country has lost its credibility in terms of providing quality cashew nuts on the world market.
When the moisture level is high, respiration takes place – causing the nuts to grow mouldy before reaching their export destination. Cashew nuts which were in terrible condition upon reaching final destinations were rejected last year, Mr. Anim further disclosed.
Mr. Anim has therefore condemned the practice of aggregators buying from farmers straight after harvest in order to beat competition.
As a result of the above, the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) has put up a set of regulations for presentation to parliament for approval. The regulations will help restrict aggregators from buying the nuts right after picking, and also before any produce leaves the country’s shores there will be an independent quality-check to ascertain its quality.
To this end, deputy Chief Executive Officer of Tree Crops Development Authority, Foster Boateng, is urging cashew farmers and processors to dry their nuts to at least 10 percent moisture content in order to get good market value for them and to meet the kernel outturn ratio.
This is because when cashew nuts are not dried enough and do not meet the KOR – which is measured between 46 and 48lbs – it loses value on the market.
Mr. Boateng stated that the competition between cashew farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire during the second season is another factor influencing farmers to supply moist cashew to the market. During this period, farmers are not able to dry crops properly due to rain.
Cote d’Ivoire has a much lower minimum farm gate price for their cashew nuts than Ghana, and also produces in larger volumes – resulting in aggregators choosing to patronise those of Cote d’Ivoire instead of Ghana’s during this period.