A Deputy Minister of Agriculture,Mr. Kennedy Osei Nyarko, has announced that the government is to set up a joint Tree and Industrial Crop Development Authority (TICDA) to regulate the buying and marketing of cash crops such as cashew, rubber, oil palm, shea nut, and others, aside cocoa.
The Authority would be private sector-led, with no government interference, as the board members and its chairperson would be nominated by industry players.
Mr. Osei Nyarko made the disclosure at the opening of the Second Session of the Fifth Edition of the Master Training Programme (MTP) on Cashew Value Chain Promotion in Africa in Sunyani.
This move follows appeals tothe government to establish a board like the Ghana Cocoa Board for the price regulation, marketing stability and other factors of cashew production.
After broad consultations by the government on the matter, it was advised that an exclusive board for cashew “would not be the best”, since the implication would be that there must be separate boards for other trees and cash crops in the country.
The five-day training programme was organised by the Competitive Cashew (ComCashew) initiative, in collaboration with the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG).
According to the Deputy Minister, as a private sector industry, the future of the cashew industry is bright in Africa. He gave the assurance that the production of cashew in Ghana would be tremendously enhanced after the government's joint board starts implementing its programmes.
This, according to him, is because the TICDA policy initiative has the flexibility for the best-case scenario to get the respective industries to progress.
Mr. Nyarko said the government has invested in research and in the production of improved planting materials, and that it would distribute over 80,000 cashew seedlings to about 1,000 farmers to boost production and to increase productivity under the 'Planting for Export Programme.'
The Deputy Minister commended ComCashew for its support in the establishment of a 30,000-capacity nursery in the Afrancho community in the Offinso North District of the Ashanti Region, adding that the nursery would help the country to fill the current existing production gap.
Mr Nyarko also commended the Wenchi Research Station and CRIG for their continuous key contributions to Ghana's position as a lead producer of high-yielding planting materials.
The workshop was aimed at increasing the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of African cashew experts along the value chain, and thus further promote the competitiveness of the African cashew sector and also focus on the development of improved planting material and cashew pest and disease management.
72 cashew experts from 11 countries-Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zambia – participated “to share knowledge, discuss best practices and lessons learnt, as well as build national and regional networks for future collaboration.”
Recently,at a meeting with traditional rulers in Sunyani at the end his three-day official visit to the Brong-Ahafo Region, President Nana Akufo Addo announced the establishment of a Cashew Development Board to regulate the cashew industry.
He announced that some 900 agricultural extension officers would also be engaged to provide technical support to the cashew farmers.President Akufo-Addo said the Ministry of Food and Agriculture would supply 2,775,000 cashew seedlings to be planted on 13,400 hectares of land across the country in the current crop season.
This was after the President had earlier, in February this year, launched the 10-year Cashew Development Plan in Wenchi, where the then Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Madam GiftyKekeliKlenam, said the implementation of the 10-Year Cashew Development Programme is expected to generate $4.6 billion in foreign exchange.
According to GEPA, the programme will promote the production and marketing of cashew by-products, and the local consumption of roasted cashew products, as well as support capacity-building in the value chain to improve efficiency at all levels.
The programme will additionally enhance competitiveness of the entire value chain, while creating over 200,000 direct and indirect jobs annually.
Further, the programme is expected to benefit over 100,000 farmers, with about 10,000 registered farmers earmarked to benefit from a revolving credit of about GH¢3 million.
The GEPA CEO said the 10-year National Cashew Development Plan will support research and development to improve inputs and technology from the farm to produce over two million grafted seedlings annually.
In addition, the development plan will expand production of raw nuts from 70,000 metric tonnes to three million metric tonnes, as well as increase processing capacity from 65,000to 200,000 metric tonnes.
Madam Klenam said at the time, that as part of the implementation of the 10-Year Cashew Development Plan, the Authority has released GH¢1.5 million to the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana for the pilot mass spraying of cashew farms in six districts in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The districts are Tain, Wenchi, Techiman, Nkoranza South, Jaman North and Jaman South respectively.The spraying is to control pest infestation, production and supply of one million cashew grafted seedlings.
In 2017, 10,000 acres of cashew farms were sprayed,
while the production of 1 million grafted cashew seedlings to be distributed to
farmers for farm expansion is progressing steadily.