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  • Cashew industry needs urgent revival

    Mar 31st, 2017

    Cashew, one of the country’s foremost non-traditional exports, is facing plummeting fortunes after suffering long years of neglect, resulting in it recording a negative 17.5 percent growth in 2014.The cashew industry, the African Cashew Alliance said, requires urgent attention to save it from imminent collapse, which would throw thousands of farmers and others whose livelihoods depends on the crop.The Alliance, which promotes the production and processing of cashew, noted that the sector is in dire distress due to lack of favourable policies, sound credit rates, and inability of local production to match processing capacity.

    “A lot of cashew processing factories have closed down. Out of the ten processing factories that were there up to the beginning of last year, only two of them are still operating,” said Ernest Mintah, interim Managing Director of the ACA.Mr. Mintah made this appeal in Accra, at a forum for the Africa cashew sector, organised by ACA as part of a series of meetings to discuss issues affecting the sector.

    As a result of the situation, thousands of people have also lost their jobs. A cashew processing factory with a 1,000metric ton capacity, typically employs about 300 hands, and it is understood that as many as close to 5,000 Ghanaians have been affected by the closure of the factories.“So, imagine a factory that has about 30,000 metric tons capacity. A lot of these jobs have gone down the drain. So, the government should see it as an urgent issue,” he said.

    Last year, he added, the government started some effort to regularise the industry by introducing policies, but these policies, he added: “were not well formulated.”“It was also the case that there wasn’t sufficient consultation among the stakeholders of the sector before introducing the policies; and as a result, they had to withdraw this policy from operation.”The Chief Director of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Seth Osei Akoto, who has been championing the course of cashew, also called for more efforts to support the development of the sector.

    “There is the need for us, as a country, to do more so that we can have enough raw nuts to feed the processing factories that are collapsing,” he said.He added: “We need to expand the production base, which of course, we can because we have a comparative advantage; we have mapped about 66 districts we can successfully implement cashew programmes all over. But there is a challenge and the challenge is that we are not putting in a lot of resources into the sector to enable us to expand production base.”Other challenges facing the cashew industry, he added, include inadequate planting materials and lack of streamlining.