The interest in cashew cultivation was rekindled with the introduction of H.E. J.J. Rawlings' Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) in 1983, when cashew was identified as one of the major non-traditional crops to be developed as part of Government’s efforts to diversify the country’s export base.
The growing demand for plant-based diets and awareness of the health and nutritional advantages of cashew nuts are increasingly driving their consumption worldwide. It is projected that the annual global revenue for cashew will increase to over USD 7 billion by 2025.
The cashew value chain brings a wide range of opportunities from production, through processing to the export of raw nuts. These include the production of oil for varnishes, paints, and surface coating. Other products from cashew are milk, juice and medicine.
Even the shells of cashew which are most often discarded and wasted, can now be processed into useful oils such as friction modifying materials for brake lining, clutch facing, industrial belting, etc.
Besides, cashew is rich in fibre, protein, and healthy fats and are linked to health benefits like reducing cholesterol, heart disease prevention, improving bone and oral health, skin problems, and diabetes prevention and management.
Currently, Ghana produces roughly 85,000 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts annually, which is about 1 percent of the total production worldwide. Over 90 percent of this is exported to Asia, India and Vietnam.
It is interesting to note that not all parts of cashew are exported from Ghana, for instance close to 88,000 metric tonnes of the product which could be processed into juice and several other recipes are mostly wasted.
This and the other aforementioned benefits of cashew makes H.E. John Dramani Mahama's intention to build cashew processing factories in Ghana another game changer.
Addressing a gathering of chiefs and cashew farmers of the Bono Region, President John Mahama mentioned that cashew processing factories will be established to ensure value addition through the processing of the cashew for export in order to earn more foreign exchange for the country and improve the lot of farmers if the NDC wins the December, 2024 general elections.
He proposed a new system where Ghanaian factories would process and package the cashew nuts before exporting them for foreign exchange.
“My leadership aims to introduce machinery dedicated to cashew processing, designed for the efficient processing and packaging of cashews for export. This initiative is to retain any profits from cashews in the country,” he explained amidst chants from the public.
Can you imagine the economic benefits to the people of Ghana if these factories run a 3-shift system as part of President Mahama's 24-hour economy policy? We are definitely going back to our roots; to Kwame Nkrumah's industralisation plan.
Anthony Obeng Afrane