A new civil society organization, Cashew Watch Ghana (CWG), has been inaugurated to champion the growth and development of cashew, one of Ghana’s non-traditional export commodities, to the benefit of the country.
The CWG network aims at promoting revolution in the commodity space through advocacies for the formulation and implementation of national policies that would transform the cashew industry as a vehicle to push rapid socio-economic growth and development. Also, CWG seeks to advocate competitive prices for the commodity for the betterment of all the value chain actors.
A statement issued and signed by Raphael Ahenu, the acting national convener of CWG, noted that market statistics has shown rising global demand for cashew products, particularly the kernel. As a result, there is the need for the industry to be streamlined through formulation and implementation of pragmatic policies.
“Demand and consumption of cashew kernel have soared since 2011. The taste for the commodity in 2021 will remain stronger, especially in Europe and America. In 2020, the USA, the largest import market for cashew kernel in the world increased demand and consumption growth by eight per cent (African Cashew Alliance)”.
Ghana yet to capitalize on the growing market
This notwithstanding, the CWG noted that Ghana is yet to fully capitalize on the growing market demand and consumption of the commodity to drive desired socio-economic change, looking at its position as a major producer of cashew in Africa and the world at large.
“Ghana’s annual raw cashew nuts (RCNs) production is estimated at 110,000 metric tonnes. Cashew for some time now has been the leading non-traditional export (NTE) commodity. Statistics from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) indicated cashew nuts export earnings surged by 43.84% from US$262.95 million in 2017 to US$378.21 million in 2018”.
Furthermore, the statement indicated that the country has the potential to derive far more from the crop if the necessary measures were adopted and implemented across the value chain. Consequently, the statement noted that it has become imperative for authorities to show utmost commitment to adding value to RCNs to create more employment and increase earnings.
Several challenges facing cashew industry
The statement further bemoaned the fact that the cashew industry is faced with several challenges forcing most of the cashew processing industries to fold up.
“In the past, there were about 13 cashew processing factories in the country, but currently, a few of them are operational, the rest are all defunct due to plethora of challenges such as non-competitive RCNs price and lack of modern industrial equipment. The few cashew factories in business are also producing below their installed capacities.
“According to GIZ/ComCashew, only 10% of the raw cashew nuts produced across Africa are processed locally. The remaining 90 percent of RCNs are exported for further processing, leaving a great economic potential for many African countries like Ghana, largely untapped”.
To this end, the CWG in this statement, assured its commitment and willingness to partner with key stakeholders, especially Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA), GIZ and Olam, to help improve on the nation’s cashew sector and enhance foreign exchange earnings on the crop.
Meanwhile, Cote d’ Ivoire and Tanzania are the two top producers of cashew in Africa, both accounting for almost 80% of Africa’s production, and are two of the best in terms of local processing in the continent. This is mainly because they have well-established, properly regulated and coordinated cashew industries. These countries have the right regulatory structures in place, the Conseil du Coton et de l’Anacarde (CCA), and the Cashew Nut Board of Tanzania (CBT).