Cashew processors in the country have advocated vigorous effort to promote the consumption of cashew products locally to boost demand.
This, they believe, will create a viable and competitive cashew value chain industry to unearth its huge untapped potentials.
According to the cashew processors, despite the high nutrition and economic value of cashew products, the local market demand is very low – attributing the situation to poor public awareness and an age-old public myth that it is fatal to eat cashew and milk together, thus discouraging people from patronising edible cashew apple products.
Cashew kernel and apple products such as juices, jams and syrups are highly nutritious and healthy. Cashew can also be processed into wine, brandy, beer, vinegar and bakery products like cake, bread and biscuits.
But just like other African cashew production countries, in Ghana consumption of cashew products is very low.
This, coupled with other challenges, has made cashew processing – especially apple products – less developed in the country.
The processors say low consumption of cashew products in the country – together with factors like lack of finance, elusiveness of modern processing equipment and unhealthy competition with exporters for raw cashew nuts on the market – continue to undermine the potential of cashew-processing in the country.
These came to light during an exhibition of locally produced cashew products in Sunyani. Some of the products on display included cashew-apple drinks, and roasted and fresh cashew kernels.
The exhibition was part of the third session of the 11th edition Master Training Programme to promote cashew value chain. The MTP, organised by GIZ/ComCashew, sought to increase the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of 60 cashew experts selected from across the country.
Interacting with journalists, Mr. Charles Kwame Kuma – CEO of Nimdee Hyeren Company Ltd. at Sampa in the Bono Region, said until the outbreak of coronavirus that made people desperate for immune-booster foods such as cashew, local consumption of cashew products was nothing to write home about.
“Since President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo urged the public to consume more local foods that can boost their immune system, patronage of our products has increased by 50 percent. I believe we can make conscious efforts to promote the consumption of healthy cashew products to create the needed market for processors to expand production in order to create more jobs,” he said.
Even with the growth in demand, the small-scale factory still operates below its installed capacity of 600 metric tonnes per year; currently, it produces about 200mt per annum. “Looking at the dynamics, we have huge potential to compete with giants like India and Vietnam. With the increasing support to cushion production of raw cashew nuts (RCN), similar efforts must be adopted to scale-up processing to change the narrative of excessive export of RCN and underutilisation of cashew apples,” he added.
The Manager of Natu Company, an agro-processing company at Wenchi, Rex Ohene Gyan, mentioned lack of storage facilities for cashew apples to facilitate all-year-round production as a major challenge. He said the company produces cashew drinks and has diversified its production lines with ‘Prekese’ drink and Prekese lite to stay afloat during cashew lean seasons – calling on government and development partners to assist such medium enterprises with the requisite financial support realise their full potential.
Addressing the MTP’s closing ceremony, Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture in charge of perennial crops, George Oduro, reaffirmed government’s commitment to developing the cashew kernel and by-product processing sub-sector to create more jobs and improve livelihoods for thousands of people who depend on cashew. He urged the public to join this campaign to promote cashew consumption locally while spreading the word about its nutritional value.