The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) is hopeful efforts put in place by public and private sector institutions would help raise output of cashew nuts from the current 50,000 tonnes to 150,000 tonnes in the next 10 years.
The increased production is needed to fetch the country more revenue as well as feed local industries, majority of which have closed down due to a combination of factors that range from low output to lack of finance to meet rising costs.
The Deputy Director in-charge of Cashew at MoFA, Mr Seth Osei Addo, said at a validation workshop in Accra that the ministry was worried about the country's inability to raise output figures to appreciable levels despite having a conducive environment that supported commercial production of the crop.
“This informed the decision to map out and apply strategies that aimed at raising output while supporting companies in the value-chain to operate efficiently”, he said.
Mr Addo mentioned increased supplies of cashew seedlings to farmers, introduction of improved and high-yielding varieties and financial support to players as some of the interventions that were being worked on by the industry.
Under using potential
The one-day validation workshop was organised by the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana with support from the Africa Cashew Alliance and the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.
It was to provide a platform for stakeholders to validate recommendations from previous workshops into concrete conclusions, which would then be forwarded to the relevant institutions for action to be taken on them.
Touching on the country's potential for cashew production, Mr Addo said although estimates showed that 60 districts in the country were conducive for cashew production, only districts in the Brong Ahafo Region were properly utilised, with 90 per cent of national output coming from that area alone.
“This means that the potential of the other regions is being underutilised”, he said, and thus, called for concerted efforts by the public and private sectors to help reverse the development.
Just like the cocoa industry where farmers are supported with inputs and implements, Dr Gideon Kofi Agbley, an advocate of the local cashew industry, said government needed to also support cashew farmers with farming inputs which would help raise output while lessening the challenges they went through.
He mentioned the mass spraying exercises, supply of fertilisers and soft loans for farmers and processors as some of the interventions the country could use to help grow the industry.
With Côte d' Ivoire insisting that cashew nuts would only be sold to Ghanaian processors at Pitts, Dr Agbley said local processors would continue to suffer from lack of raw materials, hence the need to raise output in Ghana.
He also mentioned the need to step up negotiations with the Ivorian authorities to get them to rescind that decision and allow Ghanaian buyers to purchase the nuts from their borders.
"Currently, Côte d'Ivoire sees Ghana as a competitor and not an importer and they treat Ghana as such. We need to get them to change that through dialogue so that our processors can buy from them to process," he said, noting that his outfit would be taking up that challenge with authorities in that country.