The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, through its Cashew Development Project (CDP), has put in place strategies to assist farmers improve on yields and qualitative production of cashew crop.
Such strategies include the provision of financial assistance, improved planting materials, development and distribution of bulletins on improved crop husbandry technologies to assist farmers improve on yields and quality of the nuts.
Announcing this at the opening day of the National Cashew Week Celebration, organised by Cashew Processors and Exporters Association of Ghana, in collaboration with the Cashew Development, in Accra, yesterday, the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Ernest Debrah, said that his sector was committed not only to wealth creation and poverty alleviation activities but also to improving the nutritional well- being of the entire citizenry.
The Minister said that Ghana has a comparative advantage in cashew production in view of the fact that the country has an ideal climate, abundant human resources and land area for cashew development on a sustainable basis. “Area under cashew cultivation in the country has expanded from 35, 5447 hectares in 2003 to 58,942 hectares in 2006,” he said.
Explaining the positive environmental impact of the cashew tree, Mr Debrah said “it purifies the environment by reducing the carbon concentration which is the main pollutant in the environment.”
He also said that the kennels of the fruit have higher percentage of unsaturated fatty acids which keep the heart free of cholesterol.
“We are looking forward to a situation where cashew will be used to generate significant economic benefits, promote food security and enhance the environment” he opined.
The Minister was hopeful that the workshop would provide the opportunity for stakeholders, farmers and other agricultural bodies to come up with useful policy guidelines that will ,as he put it, cause the industry to grow by leaps and bounds.
Alluding to government's contribution towards a compilation of a land bank directory in the country, which makes it easier to access information on land available for agriculture ventures in particular, the Deputy Minister for Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives, Kwadwo Afram Asiedu, urged participants, farmers and stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunities offered by government to identify suitable lands for large -scale cultivation of the crop.
He reiterated Government's commitment towards diversifying the export base of the economy as well as the two- pronged strategy of export -led and domestic -market-led industrialisation. He added that increased production and processing promote exports, generate more foreign exchange and increase employment and incomes.
The Deputy Minister affirmed his ministry's support in assisting exporters identify and comply with international standards required by export markets.
“The ministry will also actively participate in international standards setting so that such standards do not become barriers to Ghana's exports,” the deputy minister pledged.
The Ghana Cashew Week, under the theme “Cashing in on Cashew,” is expected to provide a forum where the expertise in the industry will be able to contain the challenges facing the industry in order to chart the way forward.