Story: Samuel Duodu, Sunyani
Cashew farmers in Brong Ahafo Region have appealed to the government to set up a body to regulate the pricing of cashew to stop the current practice where local and international buying agencies determine the price of the crop.
They suggested that in the interim, the COCOBOD could be given the mandate to regulate the sale and purchase of cashew and made to take charge of the promotion of cashew as in the case with cocoa, coffee and shea butter.
The farmers said it was unfortunate that while the government had established a cashew development project to support farmers to increase their produce, it had left the farmers at the mercy of buyers who determine the price for purchasing the crop.
The farmers made the appeal at an advocacy meeting of the Jaman North Cashew Farmers’ Association with officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) which brought together cashew farmers groups in the region.
The advocacy action to improve pricing and development of cashew as a cash crop and foreign exchange earner of the country was sponsored by the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.
It is also aimed at dialoguing with the authorities to provide a commodity price at the national level and setting up an institution that would promote the crop along the same line as cocoa, coffee and shea nut.
The farmers noted that some private agencies and buyers often cunningly complained that the cashew was of low quality and took advantage to fix low selling prices to their advantage and to the disadvantage of the farmers.
They said farmers were unable to repay loans secured from the Cashew Development Project and financial institutions because of the high operational costs.
Prices offered for the crop during the season fluctuate between GH 0.60p and GH 0.20p per kilo. The unstable nature of pricing during the season is not dependent on the quality available for purchase or on the world market price but mostly on the whims and caprices of the buyers as a way of maximising their profits at the expense of the farmers.
Samuel Kwame Seiy , the Regent of Sampa and the acting Regional Chairman of the Cashew Farmers Union, on behalf of the farmers called on MoFA to intervene by putting in place measures to address this constraint of their efforts at promoting cashew as a major foreign exchange earner for the country in the future are to yield meaningful fruit.
He said the cashew tree has a lifespan of 70 years and its fruit and nuts have high economic value which if processed could provide oil, alcohol, juices, animal feed and others, and expressed regret that farmers were making little to attract a higher price.
Mr Michael Mensah, Chief Executive Officer of Simida Consult Limited, the business provider, said the action was to discuss the problems facing the cashew industry and share thoughts on ways to promote the sustainability of the industry towards poverty reduction and improved standard of living of farmers in the region.
He added his voice to the call of the farmers on the government to set up a regulatory body for the sale and purchase of cashew in the country, since the crop had the potential of being a major foreign exchange earner apart from cocoa, coffee and shea nut, if given the needed a attention.