Government will not annex cashew business – Minister

Ekow Spio-Garbrah - Minister of Trade
Ekow Spio-Garbrah – Minister of Trade

Government has no plans to take-over the cashew business from local buyers and processors, says Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the Minister of Trade and Industry.

He emphasised that the ban on the export of raw cashew announced by the Ministry is in force, a directive; he explained would help the local cashew industry to thrive and benefit growers and processors.

Interacting with cashew farmers and buyers at a meeting in Wenchi, as part of his three-day working visit in the Brong-Ahafo Region, Dr Spio-Garbrah said the local cashew industry is not flourishing because the economic crop has no standardised price in the country.

He said this has paved the way for exporters to buy the commodity at low price from the growers.

Dr Spio-Garbrah disclosed that the country has the capacity to produce 70,000 metric tons of raw cashews annually, but is currently churning out 68,000 metric tons because of inadequacy of the raw material.

He said it is imperative the growers and processors to be supported so that Ghana could process and add value to the raw material to enhance foreign exchange earnings.

The Trade Minister said the cashew industry has created jobs for thousands of Ghanaians but cautioned that if prudent measures are not taken to regulate it, it would collapse.

Dr Spio-Garbrah advised the local cashew growers to form cooperatives to enable them to easily access credit facilities to expand their farming activities.

The President of the Cooperative Cashew Farmers Association of Ghana, Mr Anthony Aidoo said the country’s annual production of the economic crop is low because local growers do not have enough capital to expand their farms.

He said many young men and women have expressed interest to go into the cultivation of cashew on large scale, but lack of capital to start is hindering them.

Mr Aidoo indicated that the cashew development project which was funded by the African Development Bank few years ago resuscitated the industry.

He said since the project ended, the sector had not received any support.

He called for a body to regulate the cashew business and set a standardised price for the crop so that the local market would favour both the growers and buyers.

The President of the Cashew Buyers Association of Ghana, Mr Alex Owusu Adjei said the body is unhappy about the temporary ban placed on the export of the crop.

According to him, individual buyers and exporters had given credit support to most of the farmers who had to sell their produce and pay back.

Mr Adjei said the Association expected the Ministry to engage it, saying the ban was not appropriate at the middle of the crop season as it would not benefit the local growers and buyers.

Source: GNA

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