According to him although the
sector is a burgeoning industry that contributes to foreign exchange earnings,
stems the tide to rural to urban migration through local level employment and
transformation, it lacks the needed recognition by government.
He said apart from the absence of
an administrative body, legally mandated to steer the affairs in the cashew
value chain, there are challenges with cashew production capacity and
accessibility to credit facilities to farmers, leading to a shortfall in the
level of performance of the crop.
Mr Owusu said in spite of its
enormous potential to generate wealth and employment for Ghanaians and foreign
exchange for the nation, the current state of the cashew market shows that
Ghanaians are not in control, as foreigners with the advantage of their home
government subsidies are crowding out local traders and even processors.
He said the situation has created
chaos in the cashew market-place, where local and foreign, small and large
traders are all operating in a playing field that has no regulations as found
in more structured markets such as Cote d’Ivoire.
Mr Osei Owusu therefore advised
government and policy makers to take a queue from the success of the cocoa
sector structure and organisation, for the realisation of the expected
expansion, recognition and success of the cashew sector.
He was addressing participants at
the opening of the first ever national cashew dialogue on the theme:
“Revitalising the Cashew Sector: An Opportunity Neglected by the Nation,” in
The dialogue, which is being
organised by the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana (CIAG), is part of a
six-month advocacy programme mainly sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy
Challenge Fund, and aims at impressing upon policy makers, especially
parliamentarians to intensify lobbying on the challenging issues in the cashew
sector for improved performance and recognition. .
It brought together about 100
stakeholders within the cashew growing industry, to have discussions with key
government organisations, including the Ministries of Trade and Industry,
Finance, Food and Agriculture, as well as the Ghana Export Promotion Authority.
Dr Gideon Kofi Agbley, Acting
Executive Secretary, CIAG, said the sector contribute between 400 and 500
million dollars revenue to help in the country’s current economic crisis, and
with the potential prospect of cashew production locally, it was anticipated
that the crop would increase from its current 50,000 to 200,000 metric tonnes
annually with a processing capacity of about 90 per cent.
The sector currently has 14
processing factories in the country with a processing capacity of 60,000 MT
while the country produces 50,000 MT of raw nuts.
He explained that with the
support of BUSAC and African Cashew Alliance, the Association has begun series
of activities as part of its advocacy campaign, hoping to bring the challenges
within the sector before duty bearers and to chart a way forward.
Mr Kwaku Aidoo, President of the
Ghana Cooperative Famers Association, called for the removal of the Export
Premium in the sector, which he said is a disincentive and frustration to
cashew farmers and the market because of its monopoly.