The government’s silence on the cashew industry in the 2021 Budget and Economic Statement is an indication that it has no proper plans for cashew farmers in the country, Member of Parliament of Wenchi, Alhaji Haruna Seidu has said.
He said although the President mentioned the cashew industry in his first State of Nation Address (SONA) to Parliament, the silence of the budget on it meant that the government had no clear cut policy to improve the lives of cashew farmers in the country.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic, he said the cashew industry had been bedeviled with lots of challenges in recent times, with prices crushing to as low as GH¢3 per kilo from GH¢9.
He said the farmers, whose fate have been left in the hands of foreign buyers were therefore looking forward to a clear cut plan that would help increase the prices.
“The silence of the budget of it, however, means that the fate of these farmers will continue to remain in the hands of foreign buyers.
“Despite the high world market demand for cashew and mad rush for it by Indians and Chinese, yearly, the government has still not paid any attention to this cash crop in the budget,” he stated.
Adding value to cashew
He said despite the vast market for processed cashew nuts in Europe, Asia and Middle East, the government had not outlined any plans to help add value to the cashew that was produced in this country.
“What plans does the government have to add value to the cashew for export instead of exporting the raw cashew nuts?, he asked.
He said the NDC had a plan of setting up processing plant in areas like Wenchi, Jaman North and South and Tain to process cashew nuts and export it directly to bring foreign exchange to these areas.
“The intention was to relieve the farmers in these areas by getting easy access to farming equipment or chemicals to be subsidized from the foreign exchange received as social contributions from the factories to the farmers in the areas,” he stated.
Proper pricing regulations
Alhaji Seidu also called for the introduction of proper pricing regulations to save farmers from buyers deciding prices for them, a situation he described as very painful and disheartening after toiling all year long to have proper yields.
“What happened to the NPP government’s 10-year development program launched some years back? What is the proposed Cashew Board doing to help cashew farmers?
“Cashew has gradually become the gold for the people in these cashew growing areas and hence, we need regulations to protect them. Lots of people have stopped growing other crops to plant cashew due to future prospects in the cashew but their hopes are dieing due to the lack of policy in the industry,” he noted.
Cashew can overtake cocoa
He said it would be in the interest of the country if the government develops the cashew industry as it has the potential to overtake cocoa.
“In a very short time, if the government fixes its eyes on cashew, in the next decade, it will overtake cocoa. But this needs a deliberate government policy.
“We cannot just leave it in the hands of the farmers, distributors and buyers,” he said.