Some women picking out bad cashew nuts at Suma Ahenkro
Some women picking out bad cashew nuts at Suma Ahenkro
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Bono farmers lose out on cashew abundance -Smuggling, bad practices, raw nut exports to blame

The Global Cashew Market size has grown from $8.05 billion in 2023 and is projected to reach $8.52 billion at the end of 2024 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.7 per cent.

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The Cashew Nuts Global Market report said in 2022, the market size was reported at $7.2 billion and was expected to reach $10.5 billion by 2031, exhibiting a CAGR of 4.6 per cent during the forecast period of 2022 and 2031.

However, while the global market size in 2022 was $7.2 billion, Ghana, one of the biggest producers of raw cashew nuts in the West Africa sub-region, earned only $300 million.

Per the global market projections, there is huge potential in the cashew industry that can change the economic crisis or fortunes of the country if the industry is given maximum investment and attention.

Production

Trucks loaded with bags of cashew nuts from farm gates to Sampa

It is estimated that the country produces between 110,000 and 130,000 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts annually, but about 85 per cent of its production (raw nuts) is exported.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the commodity has for the past five years topped non-traditional export commodities in the country.

The huge exportation of raw cashew nuts, poor quality nuts due to improper drying and handling, smuggling of nuts to neighbouring countries and other bad agriculture practices in the cashew industry has however prevented the country from reaping the full benefits from the global market.

Bono Region 

For instance, farmers in the Bono Region, one of the leading producers of cashew nuts, rush to sell their produce when they are not properly dried.

In addition, some of the farmers and other dealers at Sampa and its surrounding communities in the Jaman North District smuggle the nuts to Cote d'Ivoire to sell.

Additionally, the high cost of farm inputs, preparation and transportation of the nuts to markets as well as high interest rates from financial institutions, prevent some small-scale farmers in the region from venturing into commercial farming.

Also, there is a proliferation of unauthorised buyers and exporters who have had direct access to farm gates to purchase the nuts from farmers at lower prices and without allowing proper drying of the nuts.

Not only that, farmers in the region are cheated through weighing of their produce, coupled with poor pricing and bad road networks in the cashew-growing communities. 

Though successive governments have made some investments in the industry and associations such as the Ghana Cashew Traders and Exporters Association (GCTEA) and the Association of Cashew Processors Ghana (ACPG) have been formed, the sector still lacks proper organisation and adequate supply chain linkages, especially among smallholder farmers.

                                     Dennis Abugri Amenga, Bono Regional Director of Agriculture

Solutions 

In a bid to help resolve some of the challenges and frustrations of farmers, Cashew Watch Ghana (CWG) with funding from Star Ghana Foundation implemented a project dubbed, "Amplifying the Voices of Cashew Farmers" in the region to highlight the plight of the farmers.

CWG is a platform of civil society groups made up of cashew farmers, media practitioners and non-profit organisations formed in 2019 to advocate and promote the livelihood of cashew farmers.

Its goal is to revolutionise the cashew space through advocacy for policies that will transform the cashew industry as a vehicle for socio-economic improvement, especially among the rural folk and women.

The project is being rolled out in three cashew-growing districts namely; Jaman North District, Jaman South Municipality and Tain District.

The districts are the largest producers of cashew as every household in the area is actively involved in the commodity’s production.

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The project aims to strengthen over 1,500 cashew farmers and equip them with the requisite skills and knowledge to effectively engage the government and key stakeholders to influence policy and practices in the sector.

The project has targeted to improve transparency and accountability in the management of the cashew sector, especially the policy on minimum pricing.

As part of the project, CWG has engaged farmers and political parties, particularly members of parliament (MPs) and parliamentary candidates in the project implementing areas to submit their proposed policies to be added to their manifestos and policies.

                           Raphael Godlove Ahenu, National Coordinator of the Cashew Watch Ghana

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Objectives 

The objective of the project is to mobilise and strengthen cashew farmers’ cooperatives in the three beneficiary districts to effectively engage policymakers.

Additionally, it is to increase the capacity of the new coalition of civil society groups in policy advocacy to mount pressure on the government to ensure prioritisation, transparency and accountability in the management of the cashew sector.

Again, the project is to help increase media coverage in the cashew sector and its related issues to promote an accurate and holistic understanding of issues in the industry ranging from livelihood and economic perspectives through training and the formation of a Cashew Reporters Network (CRN).

At the media and farmers’ engagement last Friday at Abesim near Sunyani, the National Coordinator of the CWG, Raphael Godlove Ahenu, called for value addition to the cashew nuts to increase the country's foreign exchange.

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He expressed the need for the government to resolve the challenges in the cashew sector for the country to benefit fully from the global market projections.

Mr Ahenu said the huge export of raw cashew nuts without adding value was unhealthy to the country's economy.

Potential 

"Ghana has just borrowed $3 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) with unfavourable conditionalities; meanwhile if you look at the cashew sector alone, it has the potential to generate more than the $3 billion annually, if the sector is properly managed," he said.

Mr Ahenu called for the institutionalisation of measures to increase the country's productivity and add value to the cashew nuts to generate more revenue.

He said the engagement between the farmers and the media was arranged to help them have direct access to each other and for the farmers to voice out their challenges to enable the media to trumpet them for policymakers to take action.

He added that the project is also to strengthen the capacity of the cashew farmers network in policy advocacy to enable them to influence policy and promote transparency and accountability in the cashew value chain.

Mr Ahenu said the lack of proper coordination among the cashew associations had also contributed to the price volatility of cashews and the low level of local processing.

Economic growth

Mr Ahenu explained that the sector had grown into one that contributed significantly to economic growth, particularly in job creation and poverty reduction.

"About 300,000 farmers are directly engaged in cashew cultivation. According to the statistics from the African Cashew Alliance, over 800,000 people are directly and indirectly employed across the cashew supply chain," he said.

Mr Ahenu said the CWG’s strategic objectives were to advocate a fair pricing regime for cashew farmers and enhance the capacity of farmers.

He said they would also conduct standard driving research for informed evidence-based advocacy and policy formulation in the cashew sector and create awareness of the economic importance of the cashew industry.

Poor prices

A farmer, Joseph Alexander Bonsu, lamented low producer prices for cashews, which is currently GH¢8.20 per kilogramme in the region, and some other market challenges.

He explained that the buyers always refused to go by the minimum pricing set up by the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA) and adjusted their weighing scales to cheat them.

Mr Bonsu said buyers purchased both well-dried cashew nuts and partly-dried nuts at the same prices. The situation, he said, had demotivated several farmers from wasting their energy and resources to dry their nuts before selling.

"If I should dry my nuts and a different farmer refuses to dry his, but we all get the same market price, why should I waste my resources next time to dry them," he questioned.

He also mentioned the lack of funds to procure farm inputs and the influx of foreign cashew nuts from neighbouring countries such as Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Togo as a challenge they were contending with.

Registration 

The Wenchi Zonal Value Chain Officer of TCDA, Dwobeng Nyantakyi, said in less than a year, the authority had registered more than 1,600 actors across the country who had been trained to understand and appreciate the industry to bring change, especially in the area of improper drying of the nuts.

He said the actors, who were made up of aggregators, traders and exporters had been issued with licenses and registration certificates to operate.

"Cashew nuts are supposed to be well dried before selling, but some buyers rush to farmers to purchase them, even if they are not properly dried," he said.

He said aiding foreign aggregators to purchase the commodity was against the TCDA Act 1010, explaining that the aggregator and trade work was reserved for only Ghanaians.

"The foreigners have a different role to play in the industry and their role is not to trade. Let's all be committed to get the full benefits in the cashew industry," he said.

Intervention 

The Bono Regional Director of Agriculture, Dennis Abugri Amenga, said the CWG intervention would help bring progress and halt illegalities in the industry.

He charged the TCDA to improve their activities to prevent farmers from selling partly dried nuts.

Mr Amenga also urged them to ensure that farmers who properly dried their nuts were given some incentives to motivate the practice.

Writer's email: [email protected]

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