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Ghana: Trade Hub plans to boost cashew-nut productionTuesday, March 24, 2015 > 10:14:16
The West Africa Trade Hub of the USAID has earmarked over US$150,000 to help finance processing raw cashew nuts to increase regional trade competitiveness, improve food security, and reduce poverty over the next five years.
The programme, which is in partnership with Cashew Alliance, is among other objectives aimed at boosting international exports, jobs, and investments; and also to promote broader, more sustainable growth by improving both the private sector’s capacity and policies, rules and practices that govern regional and external trade.
It will also increase regional trade in key commodities through more value added exports: shea, cashew, mango, rice, maize, millet/sorghum, livestock -- cattle, and small ruminants.
Mr. William Bill Noble, Value Chain Development Team Lead of the Trade Hub, in an interview with B&FT in Accra -- at a workshop organised for finance-access facilitators from some selected African countries and aimed at training them to secure finance and investment for firms to help increase the level of transformation in the processing of raw nuts to add-value -- said: “We are going to provide financing to promote cashew nut processing in the region through approval of business plans and proposals. It is a trade project working with processors to add value to such commodities”.
There are over 40,000 metric tonnes (mt) of raw cashew nuts produced in the country, all in rural areas creating employment for thousands, with women in the majority, and export figures averaging 80,000mt: with inflows from Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Benin going to major destinations such as India, Vietnam and Brazil.
The country’s production level is expected to triple over the next 10 years if all players make a concerted effort to increase production.
Currently, Ghana has an installed processing capacity of 18,000mt; however, a new large processing plant will increase its capacity by 35,000mt when it begins operations next year. A cashew-fruit processing plant is expected to be established at Koase near Wenchi in the Brong Ahafo Region.
This increase in processing capacity is expected to position Ghana as the leading cashew processing country in Africa in terms of capacity. This means a longer value chain within the country and, therefore, more gains.
Jean-Francois Guay, Finance and Investment Team Lead of the Trade Hub, explained that the project has a focus of increasing working capital of processors to enable them buy more cashew raw nuts and help increase capacity. He said working with Cashew Alliance will bring a lot of advantages to the industry. A study completed by the USAID and the West Africa Trade Hub found that for every US$1,000 in cashew sales by farmers, 120 jobs are created in the Central Region.
That is 120 opportunities, 120 livelihoods; and that US$1,000 in cashew sales happened hundreds of thousands of times in the country last year alone. As expected, such large impacts on labour also impact income levels.
The same study found out that for every US$1 in farm income from the sale of cashew, an additional US$1.43 of household income was created in the local economy.
Exports of the cashew crop account for 6% of the country’s total GDP and 18% of the country’s agricultural GDP. Behind the data and percentages, about 60,000 smallholder farmers are l cashew production every day in the country on 60,000 total hectares of land.
Cashew cultivation in the country started in the 1960’s with sporadic plantings in the Central and Greater Accra Regions, and later spread into the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Upper East and Upper West Regions on a much wider scale.
However, between 1970 and 1980, the industry suffered a setback due to the absence of appropriate policies to support the development of an emerging industry.
Low producer prices, underdeveloped market structures and inadequate information regarding appropriate husbandry practices for cashew caused farmers’ enthusiasm for the crop to wane considerably, and already established plantations were abandoned and left to the mercy of bushfires and fuel-wood collectors.