The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament for Techiman North, Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu-Adjare, has urged the government to regulate the pricing of cashew nuts and also establish offices of the Tree Crops Development Authority in all the 16 regions.
She said the presence of the authority in the regions would help to regulate not only the pricing of the cash crop but also the activities of cashew farmers to motivate them to add value to their crops.
According to her, while the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had distributed some new improved seedlings to cashew farmers under the Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme, if the authority did not act swiftly on cashew pricing, it might serve as a disincentive to farmers to expand their farms which would defeat the purpose of new seedling distribution.
“The economic benefit of cashew to farmers is derived from a favourable and stable price; so, anything short of this will affect the export potential of cashew nuts,” she said.
Presenting a statement on “Cashew production: the enactment of the Tree Crop Development Act and the elusive pricing regulatory regime in Ghana” on the floor of Parliament, Mrs Ofosu-Adjare said the Ghana Export Promotion Council had indicated that the cashew industry had an estimated untapped $600 million potential.
“So, it is proper for the government to invest money in this sector and regulate prices so that our farmers are better off,” she said.
The MP noted that over the past 10 years, cashew production in Ghana had increased yet pricing of the crop had become a major concern for the farmers.
She said unlike cocoa, there was no means a farmer would know, at the beginning of the year, how much his or her proceed would be sold for.
“It gets to a point where a kilogramme of cashew nuts is sold at GH₵1. So, what the farmers do is to leave the cashew nuts on their farms to rot,” she said.
In spite of such challenge, she said Parliament passed the Tree Crops Development Authority Act, 2019 (Act 1010) which mandated the government to set up boards responsible for the development of policies and programmes to regulate the pricing and marketing of tree crops such as cashew.
She, therefore, expressed concern that although the board had been constituted, the cashew pricing remained unregulated.
“So, there is always a fight among cashew nut farmers, buyers, processors and exporters and we think the time has come for the government to be strong on the pricing of cashew like it does for cocoa because they are all tree crops and exportable products,” she said.
Offer subsidies, loans
Expressing concern that most cashew nuts were exported raw, depriving poor farmers extra incomes, the MP urged the government to provide grants and low interest loans to farmers to add value to their crops.
She cited how the government in Cote d’Ivoire, the biggest producer of cashew nuts in Africa, placed taxes on the exportation of raw cashew and offered subsidies for those exporting cashew canals at the same time.
The Ivorian government also offered grants and loans to people to buy and process cashew nuts, she added.
“All these are incentives that help the farmers to add value to the cashew nuts and also get better benefits of farming.
“So, we want government to work on this and ensure that it encourages farmers with subsidies, grants and other incentives so that cashew production will be sustained in Ghana,” she said.