The Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA) Bill will be passed by Parliament to receive Presidential Assent by the end of this year, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, has said.
The Bill, when passed into law, is expected to provide great relief to farmers of tree crops such as cashew, coffee and rubber because, like cocoa, they would also be paying fixed, guaranteed prices for their produce.
Dr Akoto said this at the Brong-Ahafo Regional House of Chiefs (BARHCs) when he responded to a question concerning the loss incurred by cashew farmers in the Bono Region.
The Region is the highest producer of raw cashew in the country but in recent years the farmers have been complaining of the unacceptable prices for a kilo or a bag of the crop offered by local and foreign buyers.
The situation is attributed to the unregulated, unguaranteed and unstable price of the commodity because of the non-existence of an entity like the Ghana Cocoa Board that buys cocoa at a fixed price, serving as a guarantee to farmers.
Dr Akoto said government had grouped the economic tree crops under one entity; the TCDA, for the stabilisation and regulation of the process to provide farmers guaranteed prices like cocoa.
Based on that, he said government was focusing on the development and production of six cash crops – coconut, rubber, oil palm, coffee, mango, shea butter and cashew, and that seedlings were being raised for supply to farmers to commence planting nationwide.
He said cocoa had been fetching the country two billion dollars annually and each of the aforementioned crops could also fetch the nation same amount yearly.
Nana Bofo Bene IV, the Paramount Chief of Dwenem-Awasu Traditional Area in the Jaman South Municipality and the Vice President of the BARHCs, appealed to the Government to ensure the establishment of a buying agency or development authority for cashew as matter of urgency.
“If a bag of cashew was being bought at a point in time for GH¢820.00, why should the price fall to as low as GH¢220.00 now?” he asked, and called on the authorities to act fast to prevent the farmers from working in vain.