Ghana's cashew industry is to receive a major boost with technical and financial support from the government to double current production levels by 2016.
As a result, 30 districts in five regions- Volta, Brong Ahafo, Upper West, Northern and Eastern- are to be used as pilot areas to increase production from the estimated 40,000 tonnes per year to about 80,000 tonnes.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, made this known when a delegation from the Ghana Cashew Industry Association, paid a courtesy call on him at his office at the Ministries in Accra.
“The support will go to small holder farmers in each of the six districts to be selected from a district to enable them to increase their production levels to meet the target set and this support will come for them to start immediately this year”, he said.
He said it was long overdue for the country to benefit from the cashew potential in the country and expressed the hope that, “an increase in production will bring about more employment while the exports will also bring about additional foreign exchange”.
Mr Iddrisu who is also the Member of Parliament for Tamale Central said the ministry would also ensure that companies in the cashew value chain business were also supported with funds from the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF).
Presently, more than 95 per cent of cashew produced in the country is exported to other countries including Brazil.
Mr Iddrisu described the phenomenon as unfortunate and pledged the support of the government to do all it could to ensure that the potentials in the industry were fully harnessed.
For his part, Mr Winfred Osei Owusu, the acting President of the association, was pleased with the intention of the ministry to support the growth of the industry.
He said the potential in the cashew business was huge and noted that “there is a lot of land available to produce the crop and the market too is there but we need the funds to be able to produce to meet the high demand”.
Mr Osei, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of West African Market Links, said support for the value chain in the cashew industry was also necessary to help with the processing of the nuts before they were exported.
Ms Yayra Afua Amedzro, the convenor of the association, indicated that the farmers in the cashew industry were determined to increase their production and expressed the hope that support from the ministry would go a long way to enable them to achieve their potential.
Story: Charles Benoni Okine