He stated that regulations will help address some of the many challenges facing the sector, including price variations which have always shortchanged farmers – further adding the cashew sector is beginning to take shape as more educated individuals are getting involved.
“Regulation is very important at this point, because when you go on the grounds those who are not indigenes – the Indians, Vietnamese and Chinese – are there buying the commodity through illegal means.
“But if the indigenes are allowed to aggregate the commodity so that we sell at auctions for all the foreigners to come and compete, then farmers get good margins because prices are well-controlled,” he said.
Touching on the current season’s trade volumes, he said: “As I speak to you today, we have been able to pull 1,000 metric tonnes through the Ghana commodity exchange – and that is about GH₵7million face value.
“And so, if we are able to do it well as a country, it presents people in the rural areas opportunity to get higher margins on their products; and government can also get its due revenue through the assemblies.
“This is because with regulated systems districts are aware of product auctions and specific values involved, which enables them to demand appropriate tax revenue.”
Beginning April 13th, 2021, when the Ghana Commodity Exchange undertook a reserve trading auction of raw cashew nuts for the first time to commence commodity trading on the stock market.
To the end of crop season 2021, the volume of cashew nuts traded legally in the country reached an all-time high of 150,000 metric tonnes – approximately half of what government wants to achieve by 2030.
In 2017 when the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA) was inaugurated, government set a target to increase annual cashew production capacity to 300,000 metric tonnes within 10 years (2017-2027).
This, Mr. Peprah said, is attainable; but more effort and investment in the sector is required to make it a reality – reiterating that proper regulation and involvement of the educated in the production process can propel the sector to full potential and enable the state to cash-in on the almost US$7billion global market value.
While commending the TCDA for fixing the cashew price this year at GH₵5 per kilo, he indicated that challenges in the sector are far more than just fixing prices, as foreign nationals are still able to buy at lesser prices from farm gates.
“For instance, the TCDA has announced GH₵5 per kilo; but in late March and April when the commodity is in season, prices do come down to as low as GH₵2.
“But if there is a dedicated authority for only cashew, like COCOBOD is for cocoa with proper regulations, then irrespective of the time prices will be stable and farmers can benefit,” he said.
Providing insights into best practices in cashew production the world over, he indicated that countries like Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania have a great influence on the global market, as they treat cashew just like how cocoa is being treated in Ghana – hence the need to transfer the same attention and support to the cashew sector.
“We need some control over the cashew market space, because elsewhere there are regulatory bodies that you buy the product from; but over here, anyone goes to the farm gates and buys the commodity at their own determined price. This is obviously not the best practice,” he added.
Ghana is currently producing about 150,000 tonnes per year while its neighbour Cote d’Ivoire is doing about one million metric tonnes.