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Thứ Ba, 18 tháng 4, 2017

Ghana: Cashew farmers make strong case for govt’s support

18 APRIL 2017
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akofo (middle) making a point at the meeting
Dr Owusu Afriyie Akofo (middle) making a point at the meeting

The continuous dwindling in the fortunes of the cashew sub-sector has ignited calls on the government to save the situation from its present quagmire.
Subsequently, the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana (CIAG) has called on the government to give priority attention to the ailing sector by rolling out an aggressive expansion programme to restore the sector to its former glory.

The President of the Ghana Cashew Co-operative Association, Mr Anthony Kwaku Adu, made the call when the agribusiness members of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) called on the sector minister, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, in Accra on April 7.
He said for instance that the programme could see the establishment of nurseries in all cashew producing areas to produce about 3.6 million grafted seedlings, which are early bearing, high yielding and disease-tolerant, for all cashew farmers for subsequent plantation.
“These grafted seedlings should be distributed for free to plan 36,000 hectares annually up to 2020. This will help facilitate the expansion of raw cashew nut processing from 5,596 metric tonnes (about 11 per cent of local production) to 200,000 metric tonnes by 2027,” he said.
He stated that the expansion drive in the country’s production of raw cashew nuts must also be supported with a financial scheme in order to speed up the development of the sub-sector.
“Over the years the traditional commercial banks have been reluctant to extend credit for agricultural activity because of the long period it takes to recoup their investments; the high risk of production failure and perceived low rates of recovery is also another factor. However the Cashew Development Project (2002-2010) achieved a loan recovery rate of over 95 per cent, which is a high rate by all industry standards and this means that loan recovery rate within the cashew sector is very high,” he said.
Controlling diseases 
Mr Adu said the use of pesticides to control disease had been recognised as necessary to improve cashew tree productivity or yield.
“Ghana’s cashew yield of 500 kilogram per hectare was far short of international standard of 1,200 kilogramme per hectare. Although there are many reasons that could account for this, it has been recognised that Ghanaian plantation farms do not usually apply insecticides to their plantations,” he said.
Mr Adu added that evidence from farms in the Brong Ahafo Region has shown that the use of pesticides to control insects and disease have led to improved yield and farm sustainability.
He explained that the proper use of chemicals could lead to a 30 per cent increase in farm productivity within the shortest possible period of time, adding that pesticide use, however, does not come without consequences and therefore, their systematic and professional use must be highly recommended.
“Despite the high potential of the industry in contributing towards the growth of the economy, the cashew industry in Ghana has no apex body to administer activities in the industry while there is also the unavailability of regulation for the industry”, he said. 
Mr Adu further expressed concern that there are no approved standards in cashew trading while fluctuating and uncontrolled raw cashew nut prices coupled with the of lack of finance/credit assistance to support farmers continues to remain a bane,” he stated.
Cashew through the lense
The importance of cashew is appreciated within the National Export Development Programme, where it was identified as a priority export product.
The cashew sector has benefits for the environment because it can stem desertification, and provide employment particularly for women.
Additionally, cashew production and processing represents considerable opportunity for economic value, providing a secure long-term market for local producers, facilitating farmer linkages, and providing a fiscal contribution to Ghana’s economy.
Call for paper
For his part, the sector minister, Dr Akoto asked the members of the association to put forward their case by developing a paper for government consideration.
“We will attend to every request because we are determined to have the sector reform to ensure food security and provide jobs for the masses”, he said.


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