President John Dramani Mahama has announced the outright withdrawal of the policy banning the export of raw cashew, and outlined other measures to boost the emerging industry.
At a meeting with representatives of cashew farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region at the Flagstaff House yesterday, the President also said the government would also establish a Cashew Marketing Board to regulate the cashew industry.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry, which introduced the controversial policy, explained that it was part of measures to boost the local processing of cashew and subsequently create jobs for the people.
The minister later suspended it after cashew farmers in the Brong Ahafo Region and buyers voiced their concerns over the policy, which they said was counter-productive.
A press statement issued by the sector minister, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, announcing the withdrawal, said in part, “The ministry wishes to temporarily withdraw the administrative directive for the exportation of raw cashew nuts to allow for consultations with stakeholders to ensure that the cashew industry becomes competitive in a broad-based manner that would lead to job creation and the general well-being of all stakeholders.”
According to the buyers, the local processing companies could process just 35,000 bags out of the about 950,000 bags produced in the country annually, meaning the huge chunk of the produce would go waste.
The farmers also maintained that the ban negatively affected their investment as the only two local processing companies quoted low prices for the nuts.
Although there are 12 cashew processing plants in the country, only two are said to be functioning. They are Mim Cashew and Agricultural Products Limited, and Usibra Limited.
The cashew farmers, therefore, sought a meeting with the President through the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Eric Opoku, to put their case across.
About 50 farmers drawn from Jaman South, Techiman South, Banda, Tain, Wenchi, Jaman North and Techiman North attended the meeting.
They were led by the Omanhene of Suma Ahenkro, Nana Dr Afram Brempong III.
Putting the case of the farmers before the President, Nana Dr Brempong said cashew production had become the livelihood of many people in the Brong Ahafo Region and for that reason the ban was going to impoverish them.
He said following the ban the price of a bag of raw cashew nuts slumped from GH¢4.50 to GH¢2.
Nana Dr Brempong Afram also appealed to the President to consider the creation of a national marketing board to oversee the growth of the industry
Responding, the President said the withdrawal would be followed by consultations with stakeholders in the industry to see how to move the local processing of the nuts forward.
He said the processing of the nuts was necessary to inject fresh life into the industry.
President Mahama added that the nation could not rely only on cocoa for foreign exchange and that was why the government attached seriousness to the diversification of crop farming.