Business News of 2014-02-05

Cashew industry stung by Ivorian ban

With the cashew season drawing closer, cashew processors and buyers who import the raw material from Côte d’Ivoire say they are confronting hard times due to the Ivorian authorities’ ban on movement of the commodity through the land borders.

Ghana trades [processing and export] between 200-400 thousand metric tonnes of cashew per year. A greater portion of the raw cashew processed in the country is imported from Côte d’Iviore through the land borders to supplement local production, estimated at between 30-40 thousand metric tonnes.

But shipment is now the only approved route for buyers importing the commodity from Côte d’Ivoire. This is a major source of worry for the buyers, who have described the ban as “suicidal and unfriendly” to their operations, as almost all of them have their installations in the Brong Ahafo Region which is to closer to the Ivorian border than to the ports.

All the 12 cashew-processing plants in the country are located in the Brong Ahafo Region, and the buying companies also have their depots situated there. Complying with the ban will therefore raise their production costs, they say.

The government of Côte d’Ivoire late last year imposed the ban to improve monitoring the trade and help it maximise tax revenue from export of the commodity.

Unhappy with the situation, the Ghana Cashew Industry Association has petitioned government through the Trade and Industry Minister, Haruna Iddrisu, for intervention to mitigate hardship the ban will cause.

Mr. Winfred Osei-Owusu, acting president of the association, said the ban will severely affect the local economy at the border town of Sampa and surrounding communities. Cashew trade is the lifeblood of residents along that stretch of the border, he added.

The association wants the Ivorian government to allow at least 100,000 metric tonnes of the commodity to be imported through the border. It has proposed the establishment of a trading post along the border, where the Ivorian government can collect whatever duties are due it -- rather than maintain the ban.

“Ghanaian cashew traders are prepared to pay any revenue due the Ivorian government at the border. La Côte d’Ivoire must recognise Ghana as a market for the commodity because we are a net-importer of cashew. It’s therefore important to make things easier for us as their reliable customers. This is a win-win deal as the majority of Ivorian farmers have their farms close to the border and they find it more convenient to trade with us there,” Mr. Osei-Owusu said.

Trade Minister HarunaI ddrisu meanwhile says government will take advantage of the “harmonious” diplomatic ties between the two countries to resolve the matter amicably.

Mr. Osei-Owusu said the development rekindles the need for various agricultural stakeholders to step up their efforts to boost production of cashew to meet growing demand.

“Over the years, efforts and support to enhance cashew production in the country have not been consistent. There is so much potential in the sector; in the form of rural transformation, export benefits among others. Government must now commit more resources to the enhancement of cashew production.”

Source: B&FT
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