That, he said, was the way forward to grow the cashew industry.
He was speaking at the opening of the seventh edition of the “Master Training Programme on Cashew Value Chain Promotion” at Peduase in the Akuapem South District of the Eastern Region.
The five-day programme is being organized by the Competitive the Competitive Cashew Initiative (GIZ/ComCashew) in partnership with the African Cashew Alliance with support from MoFA and the Cocoa Research Institute Ghana.
It seeks to enhance the practical skills of those along the value chain and the competitiveness of African cashew
About 85 cashew experts from nine countries – Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, have gathered to share knowledge, discuss best practices and to build national and regional networks for future collaboration.
Mr. Akoto announced that under the government’s five-year “Planting for Export and Rural Development” programme, one million farmers in 170 districts would be supported with certified planting materials to plant over one million hectares of farmlands.
Additionally, 10,000 young graduates would be engaged as crop-specialized extension officers.
The goal was to boost production, promote rural growth, improve household incomes of rural farmers and create a sustainable raw material base and provide impetus to the industrialization drive through One District, One Factory (1D1F) initiative.
He commended the GIZ/ComCashew for supporting efforts at establishing tree crops seedling nursery at Afrancho in the Offinso North District.
The nursery would benefit farmers in Afrancho and other surrounding communities in the area and contribute to filling the production gap that currently exists due to high demand for improved cashew seedlings.
“We are also working toward the goal of setting up a minimum of 20-hectare scion banks in the various regions in Ghana with support from GIZ/ComCashew and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), to provide additional two million scions annually at maturity.”
The Director said the Wenchi Agriculture Research Station and CRIG were going to continue to remain vital to Ghana’s position as lead producer of high yielding planting materials.
He added that Ghana had continued to support the West Africa sub-region with extensive research on tree crops like cashew and the supply of improved planting material, something it was extremely proud of.
“It is for this purpose that we are currently assisting neighbouring countries with polyclonal seeds to boost their production – Benin, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso being the most recent beneficiaries of this support.”
Last year, cashew contributed 53 per cent of the country’s non-traditional crop export revenue.
This partly explains why efforts are being made to set-up the Ghana Tree Crop Development Authority, to manage and promote the value chain of four tree crops – cashew, oil palm, shea and rubber.
Madam Dorcas Amoh, Food Safety and Technical Assistance Manager, African Cashew Alliance, said products of the Masters Training Programme could be found in key segments of the cashew sector across the continent.
Madam Mary Adzanyo, Director, Private Sector Development, GIZ/Competitive Cashew Initiative, said the growth and attention being given to the cashew sector by Governments in Africa, was proof of the impact of the training programme was making.
Mrs. Madam Lydia Akueteh, Coordinating Director, Akuapem South District, attributed Ghana’s success story in cashew production to the hard work of CRIG and the funding agencies which supported the research.