GHANA – Mr Sunil Dahiya, Chief Business Officer of the Africa Cashew Alliance (ACA), says Ghana must look into strengthening its cashew industry to replace cocoa as the effects of climate change advances in the future.

He said climate effects were so profound such that the planet would not be able to cool off in a few years even if activities that contribute to climate change were stopped.

Mr Dahiya said climate change should be a red alert for governments who relied on cocoa production, as it would not be able to thrive in increased temperatures.

It is, therefore, important for Ghana, and Africa, to look at alternative crops that would be better able to thrive in the environment that will result from increasing effects of climate change such as cashews and start creating awareness.

Speaking at a Cashew Stakeholders’ Forum organised by the African Cashew Alliance and hosted by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Mr Dahiya said the cashew sector held tremendous potential for foreign exchange earnings, as well as job creation for Africa through value addition and needed to be prioritised by governments in Africa, including Ghana.

Mr Dahiya noted that a reduction in the export of raw cashew would contribute to reducing the carbon foot-print in Africa by 200 per cent since cashews would no longer have to be sent via air or freight to India or Brazil for processing, causing pollution.

He said although Africa currently produced about 55 per cent of the world crop of cashew nuts, with the rest coming from India, Brazil and Vietnam, among others.

Ghana’s cashew industry has great demand for raw materials but production was not high enough to meet the growing local and external demand.

Although data on production numbers in Ghana are conflicting, it is currently below 60,000 tonnes per annum.

“It is certainly a matter of prioritisation, in terms of what comes first,” he said.

Mr Dahiya said although production needed to be increased, value addition was the way to go as export of value added products would earn the country more income than export of raw materials.

He said out of the 12 cashew processing factories that were installed in Ghana currently, only two were functioning due to the difficult business environment in the country.

“Only the international ones with cheap financing from outside are able to operate to full capacity but the locals are really struggling to continue and if they continue they will make losses so they have decided to put it on hold till the environment improves.”

Mr Dayiha said while previous governments had done well to attract some investment into the sector for the establishment of the factories, it was not enough.

There was the need for reasonably priced utilities like electricity, prioritised access to the raw materials by processors and trained personnel for the factories.

“There is no one solution, there is a parallel solution to get the ultimate solution. Government first have to start providing attention to the sector, with true political will. The also increase production and find ways of improving value addition,” he stated.

The forum, which included participants involved in production, marketing, processing and export of cashew, was to develop a 10-year vision for the sector covering 2017 to 2027.

Key elements for the vision, suggested by the stakeholders included value addition, diversified markets, increased production and processing, government engagement, training, sustainability and improved competitiveness of African Cashews among others.

Mr Ernest Mintah, Managing Director of ACA said the vision, when finalised, would help align stakeholders’ objectives and efforts as well as clarify their roles in the attainment of the vision in order to accelerate the growth of the sector.

March 29, 2017: GNA