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MP makes case for Cashew Development Authority

BY: Emmanuel Bruce

The Jaman South constituency which was created in 2000 has been one of the safest seats for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) who had held the seat for the last 20 years.

However, in the 2020 elections, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) candidate, Mr Williams Okofo Darteh, snatched the seat from the NPP. He polled 24,000 valid votes to beat Mr Yaw Afful of the NPP who polled 22,000 votes.

The constituency has a population of 100,000 people, according to the 2010 Population Census, with majority of them into farming.

Cashew

Cocoa production, which used to be the main cash crop in the area, has changed to cashew farming.

Aside from cashew, the constituency grows food crops such as maize and cassava, and quite recently has started going into the poultry industry.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily Graphic as part of the ‘Constituency Watch’ series, Mr Darteh said majority of people in the constituency had been pushing their efforts and energies into the cultivation of cashew.

He said the people were, however, faced with numerous challenges in the cashew sector, as the government had left everything to the farmers.

Mr Williams Okofo Darteh— MP for Jaman South

“So, the buyers come and they decide to pay what they want and this is bad. In 2016, a kilo of cashew was selling at GH¢9 but now selling at GH¢3. And this has been happening for the past few years, sometimes it comes as low as GH¢1.50 per kilo.

“The Tree Crops Development Authority, which was launched last year, was supposed to regulate the cashew industry, but since the cashew season started last year, they have not even issued a single statement,” he stated.

Cashew authority

In view of the challenges confronting the farmers, Mr Darteh said it was necessary to have a separate Cashew Development Authority, similar to the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), which would be focused on the production and marketing of only cashew.

“Just last year, the country got about $300 million from the cashew industry. So, if we should come in to support the farmers just like they do for cocoa farmers, they will increase production and the country will gain more.

“We need to be categorical about establishing a board to deal with cashew because it has become a big industry now and we can’t put it together with other trees. We have over 100,000 people into cashew farming so the Cashew Board is long overdue,” he said.

Roads

Mr Darteh said the biggest challenge of the constituency was the poor road network.

“We are a municipality with about 54 towns, and some smaller villages. Out of the 54 towns, we have about eight that are on the main road. On the main road, the roads are terrible, with most of the roads untarred.

“About 48 towns are just at the periphery of the capital and we have about four roads leading to all these 48 plus towns and none of these roads have ever seen a tarred surface. They don’t even grade it. For the past four years, almost all the roads in the constituency stayed with these bigger potholes,” he lamented.

He said the poor road network had also affected the farming activities in the constituency, with farmers sometimes struggling to transport their produce to the capital to sell.

To address this challenge, he said he had started discussions with the Roads Department to get some of the roads fixed.