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28.04.2007 Business & Finance

Ghanaian cashew farmers lauded

By Nii Kwaku Osabutey ANNY

Ghana's cashew farmers have been praised for their collective and sustained effort to sensitise the public about the crop and the need to patronize cashew products.

“This cashew week celebration is a strong indication of how committed the farmers are in making sure that cashew becomes a major stake among the public,” says Robert Yapo, Vice President of the African Cashew Alliance, a public-private-partnership that aims at promoting the African cashew sector from the production to consumption.

Mr. Yapo, who was in Ghana for the first Cashew Week celebration told the dailyEXPRESS that the sustainability of cashew consumption would depend on the quality and standard of the crop, and urged farmers to be mindful of that.

According to him, cashew is important to the economic growth of African countries and appealed to governments to do more to support the farmers.

He said most cashew farmers are folding up because they have not been able to attract the needed credit facility to expand their business, a trend he said “does not encourage the growth of the crop.”

Mr. Yapo appealed to the banks to advance credit to the farmers to help them increase their production.

Touching on cashew production in Africa, the ACA official said their production level is more than a third of the world's supply but the continent processes only a small percentage of nuts.

Mr. Yapo named countries such as Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Tanzania as the highly ranked on the continent.

He said Cote d'Ivoire for example, produces more than 200,000 metric tons of cashew for both domestic and foreign consumption.

The Project Agronomist of the Cashew Development Project at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture Seth Osei-Akoto, in an interview with the dailyEXPRESS said his outfit is determined to support cashew farmers with the needed facilities to help them increase their yields to a substantial level.

He said the country in 2005 exported 41,000 metric tons of cashew, bringing in over $30 million in foreign exchange earnings.

An official from the United States Development Agency for International Development (USAID) Rick Ody said his outfit is always ready to support the farmers in terms of skill training.

“About 5,000 farmers from 20 farmer based organisations are also expected to participate in the training program,” he added.

According to him, the training will offer farmers in areas such as Brong Ahafo, Volta and the Northern Regions the opportunity to come add value to their current production level.

Source: Nii Kwaku Osabutey ANNY (dailyEXPRESS)
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