Business News of 2014-03-24

Ghana’s cashew season to be launched at Wenchi

The Ghana Cashew Industry Association will launch the country’s cashew season in Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region on Thursday, March 27, 2014.
The event, the first of its kind in the country to be organised with support from the African Cashew Initiative (ACi) and the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), will create a conducive platform to set a national agenda for the next season.
A release signed by the Executive Secretary of the association, Ms Yayra Afua Amedzro, said the maiden event would be on the theme; “Harnessing the economic and climatic benefits of cashew; the strategic non-traditional export commodity.”
The launch, which is planned to become an annual event to mark the largest gathering of cashew industry players in the country, will be attended by producers, processors, exporters, researchers and policy makers, among others.
Cashew, like many other agricultural commodities, is a seasonal crop with large concentrations in the Brong Ahafo Region, although there are producers in other parts of the country, including the Northern Region.
Cashew cultivation in Ghana started in the 1960’s with sporadic plantings in the Central and Greater Accra regions and later spread into the Brong-Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions on a much wider scale.
However, between 1970 and 1980, the industry suffered a setback due to the absence of appropriate policies to support the development of an emerging industry. Low producer prices, underdeveloped market structures and inadequate information regarding appropriate husbandry practices for cashew caused farmers’ enthusiasm in the crop to wane considerably, and already established plantations were abandoned and left to the mercy of bushfires and fuel wood collectors.
Fortunately, the interest in the crop was rekindled with the introduction of the Economic Recovery Program (ERP) in 1983, when cashew was identified as one of the major non-traditional crops to be developed as part of the government’s efforts of diversifying the country’s export base.
The way forward
Commodity markets were, therefore, established and liberalised; thus providing the opportunity for cashew farmers to sell their raw nuts. Cashew farmers became enthusiastic about the crop once again and re-invested money, time and labour to rehabilitate some of the abandoned farms. As a result, Ghana recorded its first export of 15mt of raw cashew nuts in 1991.
Today, over 40,000mt of raw cashew nuts are produced in the country and export figures average 80,000mt, with inflows from Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Benin to major destinations such as India, Vietnam and Brazil.
Ghana also boasts increasing processing in the country up to about 30,000mt capacity, all in rural areas, and creating employment for thousands, with women in the majority.
It is, therefore, believed that the country’s production levels can be tripled over the next ten years if all players make the concerted effort to increase production.
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