Mr Sylvester de Clercq Mensah, the Cashew Regional Coordinator for the Upper Zone, has called for the promotion of the local consumption of cashew in the country.
This, he said, will create a viable and more stable local market for the tree crop in the country and reduce the over-dependence on the export market, which according to him was pushing local processors out of the market.
Mr Mensah was speaking during a two-day training workshop for Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs) in the Upper West, Savannah and North-East Regions of Ghana organized by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) through the Resilience Against Climate Change (REACH) project with funding from the European Union.
“If we are consuming the cashew, it will not even be there for export and therefore we would have created a market within for ourselves and that will make the cashew market more stable than all the time depending on the export market,” he said.
He said the issue of over-dependence on the export market created price hikes making it difficult for local processors to compete, thereby resulting in the collapse of 11 out of the 14 local cashew processing factories established somewhere 2003 when the cashew development activity project started.
Mr Mensah, who is also the Regional Extension Officer for Upper West, also observed that currently, more attention was on the nut only, which formed just about one-tenth of the entire fruit of the cashew.
He, therefore, called for the need to promote the utilization of the apple to bring additional income to the farmers.
“Currently, we are depending on the nut alone and the value of the apple goes waste and that affects the income of the farmers”, he emphasized.
He said these issues, among others, would be looked at when the Cashew Development Authority established in December 2019 was operational per the Tree Crop Law put in place by the government in 2012 so that both local processors and exporters could have their fair share of the Cashew Development Activity.
The two-day training workshop is on how to improve the productivity of unproductive and over-aged cashew plantations using a technique known as “top working”.
It is aimed at improving the capacities of the AEAs in line with government’s Planting for Export and Rural Development (PERD) programme, to expand agro-forestry, focusing on cashew production in the North-West zone of Ghana.
It provided a platform for 14 AEAs to build and enhance their capacities and knowledge levels on the techniques of “topworking” unproductive and aged cashew plantations.
The principle of “topworking” is the replacement of the crown of an underperforming tree, by grafting scions with desirable characteristics from ‘elite mother trees’ on them, to improve the productivity of the tree by taking advantage of its well-developed root system.
“Topworking” ultimately provides such advantages as rapid growth, a quick return on investment as production can start the same year and improvement of yields of trees, which before “topworking”, had low or no productivity.