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  • Ghana: Spio Garbrah Calls Cashew Farmers

    Mar 21st, 2016

    Cashew farmers within the Brong-Ahafo region have expressed discontent over the directives by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah on March 14, 2016 banning the export of raw cashew nuts.

    Per the directives by the sector minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah export of raw cashew nuts from the country has been banned until after May 31, 2016, adding that between March 31 and May 31, 2016, any raw cashew nuts brought to the ports or borders of Ghana for export shall be confiscated.

    This directive seems not to have gotten down well with the various cashew farmers, Unions and Association who have vehemently kicked against it and have threatened to demonstrate or march to the Presidency to petition His Excellency John Dramani Mahama to sack the sector Minister.

    According to the Wenchi Cooperative Cashew Farmers and Marketing Union, they would be demonstrating to express their displeasure on the directives on Thursday March 24, 2016, and if after the demonstration nothing favorable was done about their plea, then members of the union would not hesitate to march to the Presidency.

    Chairman of the Wenchi Cooperative Cashew Farmers and Marketing Union, Mr. Kwaku Adu, indicated that the decision would cripple the production of cashew and would render farmers poor and demoralized after investing huge sums of money into cashew farming.

    He said there was no proper consultation with the major and relevant stakeholders in the cashew production otherwise such a directive would not have come from the sector minister just to discourage the already vulnerable cashew farmer who have no or limited support from the government.

    Though the directive of Dr. Spio-Garbrah was to help sustain the cashew processing industries in Ghana, per his oversight responsibilities for trade regulations and controls under the import and export law Act (503) section (13) of 1995 as amended in 2000, the cashew farmers and buyers think otherwise.

    According to Dr. Spio-Garbrah as much as 95% of Ghana's total production of cashew nuts estimated at 68,000 metric tonnes is exported in its raw form to overseas for processing, a situation which is killing the local industries, hence the directives.

    The country has 12 cashew processing factories, out of which only three are known to be in operation. The three are Mim Cashew, Agricultural Products Ltd, and Usibra Limited.

    However, checks by The Chronicle revealed that Cashew buyers in the Kintampo South, Techiman North, Banda, Tain, Jaman North and South districts, as well as the Techiman municipalities had no space to keep the bought cashew nuts from farmers and have to halt buying them, leaving several farmers frustrated.

    At Debibi and Sampa in the Tainand Jaman North districts, some buyers said the merchants who had come from India and China to trade in the cash crop had planned going back to their home countries, following that directive.

    The acting Chairman of the Cashew Buyers Association in Techiman, Mr. Mumuni Issah said tons of cashew nuts are rotting as a result of the directive. He called on the Minister to rescind the decision and lift the ban for farmers to export the commodity for foreign exchange to pay their creditors.

    He added that the directive is putting the farmers at the mercy of two processing cashew plants and if the ban is not lifted, they would demonstrate against the sector minister and fight any agency that would be directed to buy cashew nuts in the region.

    "We want government to lift the ban on export of raw cashew nuts to allow us export the commodity to generate revenue to pay back our investors and provide livelihood for our families," he added. Mr. Anane Yaw Kwarteng, Chairman of Cashew Farmers Association in the Dormaa Central Municipality, at a press conference last Friday, said they (farmers) were giving Dr. Spio-Garbrah a three day ultimatum to withdraw his "wicked directive before we descend on him".

    He added that their cashew nuts were being rendered useless in the face of the ban because all their warehouses were full to capacity yet merchants could not export their goods. Meanwhile, a statement issued in Accra over the weekend and signed by the sector Minister, Dr. Ekwow Spio Garbrah indicates that the controversial order has been withdrawn with immediate effect.