CASHEW farmers at Sampa, a leading cashew production area in the Brong Ahafo Region have appealed to the government to set up a regulatory body for the pricing of cashew as in the case of cocoa, coffee and sheanuts.
That measure, they felt, would go a long way to check cheating by local and international cashew buying agencies operating in the region.
The farmers said it was unfortunate that even though the government had set up a cashew development project to support farmers to increase the production of the crop, they were at the mercy of buyers who determine the price of the crop.
They, therefore, called on the government to use an existing body such as the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) to regulate the sale and purchase of cashew in the short-term or establish a new company to take charge of the organisation and promotion of cashew.
The regent of Sampa, Nana Kwame Siey, who is also a prominent cashew farmer, on behalf of his colleagues, made the appeal through the Daily Graphic at Sampa in the Jaman North District recently.
Other farmers who spoke to the Daily Graphic shared similar sentiments, and therefore, urged the authorities to provide uniform price for the commodity at the national level and also set up an institution that would promote the crop along the same line as cocoa, coffee and sheanuts.
The farmers stated that some private agencies and buyers had been deliberately complaining of the low quality cashew in the area and took advantage of the situation to fix low prices to exploit them.
They said farmers were unable to repay loans secured from the cashew development project and financial institutions because of the high operational cost.
Prices offered for the crop during the season fluctuate between GH¢0.20p to a low of GH¢0.60p per kilo.
Nana Siey, the Acting Regional Chairman of the Cashew Farmers Union, has on behalf of the farmers, called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to intervene to take realistic measures to address the problem to encourage them to increase production.
The cashew tree has a life span of 70 years and its fruits and nuts have high economic values.
“If the commodity is processed, it can produce oil, alcohol, juices, animal feed, among others, but the farmers expressed regret that they were making little or no profit for their livelihood,” Nana Siey said.
He appealed to the government to set up a cashew processing plant in the region to add more value to the commodity in order to attract higher prices.
The Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensan, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Jaman North, called on the cashew exporting companies to consider setting up cashew processing factories in the district and other cashew growing areas in the region to add value to the product to increase the price and also generate jobs for the youth.
He further urged the cashew exporting and buying companies to adjust the prices of cashew to reflect the present economic circumstances to encourage farmers to increase production and also encourage the youth to go into cashew cultivation.