President John Dramani Mahama has
announced the outright withdrawal of the policy banning the export of raw
cashew, and outlined other measures to boost the emerging industry.
At a meeting with representatives
of cashew farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region at the Flagstaff House yesterday,
the President also said the government would also establish a Cashew Marketing
Board to regulate the cashew industry.
The Ministry of Trade and
Industry, which introduced the controversial policy, explained that it was part
of measures to boost the local processing of cashew and subsequently create
jobs for the people.
The minister later suspended it
after cashew farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region and buyers voiced their concerns
over the policy, which they said was counter-productive.
A press statement issued by the
sector minister, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, announcing the withdrawal, said in
part, "The ministry wishes to temporarily withdraw the administrative
directive for the exportation of raw cashew nuts to allow for consultations
with stakeholders to ensure that the cashew industry becomes competitive in a
broad-based manner that would lead to job creation and the general well-being
of all stakeholders."
According to the buyers, the
local processing companies could process just 35,000 bags out of the about
950,000 bags produced in the country annually, meaning the huge chunk of the
produce would go waste.
The farmers also maintained that
the ban negatively affected their investment as the only two local processing
companies quoted low prices for the nuts.
Although there are 12 cashew
processing plants in the country, only two are said to be functioning. They are
Mim Cashew and Agricultural Products Limited, and Usibra Limited.
The cashew farmers, therefore,
sought a meeting with the President through the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister,
Mr Eric Opoku, to put their case across.
About 50 farmers drawn from Jaman
South, Techiman South, Banda, Tain, Wenchi, Jaman North and Techiman North
attended the meeting.
They were led by the Omanhene of
Suma Ahenkro, Nana Dr Afram Brempong III.
Putting the case of the farmers
before the President, Nana Dr Brempong said cashew production had become the
livelihood of many people in the Brong Ahafo Region and for that reason the ban
was going to impoverish them.
He said following the ban the
price of a bag of raw cashew nuts slumped from GHC4.50 to GHC2.
Nana Dr Brempong Afram also appealed
to the President to consider the creation of a national marketing board to
oversee the growth of the industry
Responding, the President said
the withdrawal would be followed by consultations with stakeholders in the
industry to see how to move the local processing of the nuts forward.
He said the processing of the
nuts was necessary to inject fresh life into the industry.
President Mahama added that the
nation could not rely only on cocoa for foreign exchange and that was why the
government attached seriousness to the diversification of crop farming.
By: Kwame Asare Boadu