Stakeholders in the cashew industry have committed to a road map for the smooth implementation of an export window in order to save Ghana’s cashew industry from total collapse.
To this end, all players in the industry have agreed to the establishment of a Joint Working Group made up of the private sector, the Ministries of Trade and Industry, Finance, Food and Agriculture to work towards the development of the cashew value chain in Ghana.
These key decisions were reached after the National Executives of the Cashew Industry Associations of Ghana (CIAG) and the Executive Committee of the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) paid separate courtesy calls on the Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr. EkwowSpio- Garbrah to express their support for government’s policy to implement an export window. They pledged their determination to work with the Ministry to ensure that the cashew industry becomes competitive in a broad-based manner that would lead to job creation and the general well-being of all stakeholders.
“We fully support the policy that was instituted by the Ministry because we believe it is the best way forward for the industry. Our only problem has to do with the timing of the announcement. Now that the policy has been suspended, we are ready to collaborate with the Ministry for the development of the industry in Ghana”, Mr. Winfred OseiOwusu, President of CIAG said.
Mr. OseiOwusu further urged government to set up a Ghana Cashew Managment Board to license, supervise and monitor all activities in the cashew value chain.
The Acting President of the African Cashew Alliance, Mr E.D. Maokola-Majogo said the ACA is “encouraged by the bold initiative of the government of Ghana to promote the industry by encouraging and supporting local processing of cashew in the country”.
He said whilst Kenya has placed a general ban on the export of Raw Cashew Nuts in order to protect their industry, other member countries of ACA such as Cote d’lvoire, Benin, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau have reformed their cashew sector to provide an enabling environment that supports all actors in the cashew value chain.
The representative from Kenya, Mr Patrick Wainaina described how after banning the exports totally throughout the year, the cashew industry in Kenya has prospered , with growers, traders and processors all reciving higher prices, employing more people and contributing significantly to the Kenya economy.
On his part, Dr. EkwowSpio- Garbrah thanked the groups for their show of support and preparedness to work together to develop the cashew industry in Ghana.
He intimated that the Ministry will always be guided by the supreme interest of the people and country in making policy decisions.
It would be recalled that, on his visit to some parts of BrongAhafo Region in August 2015, the Trade and Industry Minister visited several cashew growing areas including Mim, Dormaa and Sampa and it came out that out of the twelve cashew processing plants, only Mim Cashew with a manpower capacity of 1,000 was operating, while the remaining eleven were idle as a results of lack of raw cashew nuts. The recommendation to the Ministry at that time was that best way to salvage the cashew industry was therefore to place a restriction for exporting of cashew for two months out of the whole year to ensure that these companies get raw materials to process.
‘We should not lose sight of the fact that industries drive agriculture because efficient industries can employ more people than agriculture’, the Minister said.
He called for broader consultations among stakeholders in charting a way forward for the cashew industry in Ghana.