In not too distant future, Ghana is said to become one of the largest exporter of cashew nuts in Africa.
This is because cashew nut production has increased fourfold not only in Ghana, but across the continent since 2000.
Experts base this assumption on the fact that, Ghana in the past decade has expanded cashew nut production in Bono East, Bono and the Ahafo regions mainly for export.
The growth has positioned Ghana as one of the largest producers of raw cashew nuts in Africa and presently exports over 98 per cent of its cashew nuts in their raw form to India and Vietnam.
Globally, demand for cashew nuts is said to have grown at around seven per cent each year. On this basis, cashew is predicted to represent 29 per cent of the global nut market by 2021.
Ghana’s phenomenal growth is attributed to a number of social, economic as well as political interventions that ensured the spectacular expansion.
The country is, therefore, at the brink of reaping significant benefits from the export of cashew nuts but that is threatened now by a tussle between farmers and buyers over pricing.
In a report published in the Monday edition of the Ghanaian Times, it is said that the impasse is a result of disagreements over the price of the nuts for the 2020 purchasing season.
Information we gathered in the area indicate that, while the farmers resolved to sell a tonne of the fruit at nothing less than GH¢800.00, the buyers are insisting on the price of the same quantity at GH¢700.
According to Ghana National Cashew Farmers Association, they [farmers] would not sell the commodity if the buyers were not willing to meet their asking price.
The president of the association, Nana Adu Boaponsem XI, attributed what he termed “perennial price disparity” to lack of regulation of the cashew sub-sector. He said the buyers had “cheated” farmers for far too long, hence the decision to demand fair price in the current season.
“Over the years, the buyers do not consult farmers before they arrive at a price. Factors such as high inputs cost, high interest rate, exchange rate and prevailing world market price informed our asking price,” he explained.
We agree with the farmers but regret that the cashew nut sector is not regulated as it is with other cash crops.
The sector has the potential of becoming a major foreign exchange earner for the country and, therefore, ought to be regulated as we do cocoa.
We cannot allow the sector to operate in a manner that the farmers would always be disadvantaged all the time.
We call on the government to step in and regulate the sector in other to protect the farmers.
In addition, we urge that we create the condition and infrastructure to support in-country processing and value adding as part of expansion of the cashew sector.
Such policy and planning initiatives may ensure Ghana is able to benefit – socially and economically – from the growing global demand for cashew nuts, and earning foreign exchange to support the overall developmental agenda of the country.