Business News of Wed, 21 Feb 20186
President Akufo-Addo fires up cashew project
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched a 10-year Cashew Development Plan aimed at diversifying Ghanaian agriculture.
At the launch of the ambitious project at Wenchi in the Brong-Ahafo Region yesterday, the president reiterated the need to diversify agriculture to boost economic growth, claiming that cashew as a cash-crop, is going to play a major role.
He acknowledged the over-reliance on the production and export of cocoa by Ghana and said neigbouring Cote d’Ivoire is doing well ever since it diversified its agriculture.
President Akufo-Addo said Cote d’Ivoire’s diversification of its agriculture earned it a whopping $12 billion – from the export of agricultural produce in 2015 alone – and said he was fulfilling a campaign pledge he made at Suma Ahenkro in the Jaman North Constituency to make cashew production one of the major foreign exchange earners in the agricultural sector.
“I reiterated my commitment to assist in diversifying Ghanaian agriculture, and transforming, amongst others, cashew into a major cash crop and foreign exchange earner for Ghana. This morning’s event, ladies and gentlemen, is the beginning of the realisation of this vision,” the president articulated.
Highlighting the success of the first year of the ‘Planting for food and jobs’ programme, which led to an increase in the production of staples, as well as the creation of thousands of jobs in the rural economy, President Akufo-Addo said the prospect of the initiative is encouraging the government to expand the scope of the programme.
“The programme is expanding its focus not only to the production of staples, but also to the development and production of some selected crops such as cashew, oil palm, rubber, shea, cotton and coffee, for good reason,” he said.
The president said currently, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, which are among the top five cashew producing and exporting countries, have the same topography as Ghana and there is no reason why this country cannot compete with its neighbours in the production of cashew.
He said as part of the plan to boost the production of cashew, the Rural Development Department of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, is spearheading the initial production of seedlings for mass cultivation of cashew in the country.
“Under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) project, all 216 metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives have been given oversight responsibility for the production of not only cashew seedlings, but also for seedlings of oil palm, shea, cotton, rubber and coffee, for distribution to farmers from next year,” the president said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “The seedlings, once distributed, and planted by farmers, will ensure that more rural jobs will be created, in addition to an increase in yield. The potential for further job creation down the value chain through agro-processing is enormous.”
The president said that the Ghana Export Promotion Authority commissioned a cashew mass spraying exercise in Wenchi, involving the provision of GH¢1.6 million for the spraying of some 30,000 hectares of cashew plantation towards the improvement of the country’s current yield, adding ,“This is expected to increase cashew production for this crop year by some 30%.”
He also said that improvement in research methods that would lead to the introduction of appropriate production and processing technologies as well as developing marketing strategies are key to the Cashew Development Plan.
He urged the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority to ‘incorporate’ the plan, policies and interventions that will create ‘additional businesses’ and ‘job opportunities’ in the areas of storage, transport and packaging of cashew for farmers to earn higher incomes.
“I urge the Ministries, Departments and Agencies, our Members of Parliament, farmers, and the private sector to do everything possible to support the Cashew Development Programme. This, together with the other programmes for other selected export crops, would drive industrialization in rural Ghana, diversify agricultural exports and provide the needed jobs for the teeming masses of unemployed youth of this country,” President Akufo-Addo added.