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23.04.2007 General News

Cashew farmers optimistic about future

By Nii Kwaku Osabutey ANNY

Cashew farmers in the country are optimistic the crop will catch up well with Ghanaian consumers, following the successful celebration of the first ever cashew week.

The three (3) day celebration on the theme, “cashing in on cashews” sought among others to provide the platform for information sharing among stakeholders in the areas of marketing, logistics and quality standard & processing.

It was also a platform to advise farmers on available opportunities and constraints in the industry.

Despite the availability of resources, Ghana in 2005 exported only 41,000 metric tons of cashew nuts, contributing approximately $30million in foreign exchange earnings. But this figure, most stakeholders in the industry say, is small when compared to the world excess demand of 430,000 metric tons of raw nuts, valued at $270 million, and growing at a rate of between 5-8% per annum.

Poor marketing plans and poor quality of seeds, experts say, have combined to worsen the already precarious situation of the farmers who normally rely on credit facilities to maintain their farms.

Speaking to the dailyEXPRESS, most of the farmers who attended the Cashew week were hopeful Ghanaians will begin patronising cashew products because of efforts under way to promote and generate its interest among consumers.

“The challenge is now on us to make cashew more attractive to the consumer. Though cashew has been around for a while, only a handful of people are aware of its uses and this we're hoping to address immediately after this celebration, Stephen Aboagye, a cashew farmer from the Ga district said.

The farmers also told the dailyEXPRESS of their determination to address the issue of poor quality seeds that continue to militate against them.
“The international market for cashew has become very competitive and we therefore have to address the inherent problems of the quality of our seeds,” they said.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Agriculture has pledged its support to the country's cashew farmers. The sector minister Ernest Debrah said his outfit will collaborate with NGO's in the sector to run supporting programmes for the farmers to help them improve on the quality of their produce.
Available records indicate that Ghana exports more than US$20 million of raw cashew nuts abroad, especially India.