The delay in operationalization of the much-awaited Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) remains a worry for industry players like cashew processors.
According to cashew processors, further delay in making the Authority functional will among others bundle out the few surviving cashew processing companies in the country, especially the small-scale enterprises.
“Any further delay to make the TCDA functional will worsen the plight of local cashew processors, because we’ll continue to lose our purchasing power on the raw cashew nuts market. Processors are unable to buy the needed quantities of raw nuts, thus under-utilising their installed production capacities. Besides, our obsolete equipment can no longer be relied on to meet the increasing demand,” George Nkrumah Sarpong, CEO of Gensap Food Processing Company in Sunyani, has said.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in September 2020 inaugurated the TCDA in Kumasi to serve as a regulatory body for six crops: cashew, shea, mango, coconut, rubber and oil palm. But almost ten months after its birth, the Authority is yet to be fully operational in order to deliver its mandate of identifying and developing a sustainable sources of funding to promote and support development of the tree crops industry.
In April this year, the Director of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Seth Osei Akoto, told the B&FT that the new institution was battling with some operational hitches but efforts were being made by all stakeholders to get the TCDA to hit the ground running as soon as possible.
Speaking to the B&FT on the sidelines of an exhibition of cashew products in Sunyani, Mr. Sarpong said the installed capacity of his company is 5 tonnes per week – but the overwhelming challenges have reduced production to one tonne/week. He added that irrespective of the huge demand for cashew kernel, companies like Gensap are incapacitated to meet it.
“We don’t have the financial muscle to compete with exporters for the raw nuts, our machines are not as efficient as compared to what our peers use in other countries. Banks and loan lenders are demanding guarantors, and we need government intervention in this regard. This is where a fully functional Authority would be very handy,” he stated.
Touching on the potential of cashew nut shells, the local entrepreneur pointed out that lack of investment has forced processors to abandon what could be turned into useful products like industrial fuel, lubricants, paint and insecticides or fungicides.
The B&FT has learnt that cashew shell makes up to 70-75% of the raw cashew nut. Notwithstanding its opportunity for additional income generation, it is often treated as waste in this part of the world.
The exhibition was part of the one-week long 3rd and final session of the 12th edition of the Master Training Programme for cashew value chain promotion in Africa. The programme among others provided a platform for about 80 cashew experts to share knowledge, discuss best practices and lessons learned. The exhibition exercise created a platform for local cashew nuts and apple processors to share their experiences with participants.