USIBRAS Ghana Limited, the biggest cashew processing company in West Africa, has appealed to government for better support to the country’s cashew processors as it is importing 5,000 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts from Guinea Bissau due to the limited access to high quality raw cashew nuts in Ghana.
The company said on July 5th 2016, it received the first shipment of 3,500 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts from Melo Ltda, a cashew company in Guinea-Bissau, and is expecting the second shipment of an additional 1,500 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts this week to supply their current factory demands.
Mr. Tarciso Falcao, Operations Director of USIBRAS Ghana Limited in a statement copied to the B&FT said: “We need prompt policies on the taxation of raw cashew nut exports, the establishment of a two months export window for raw cashew nuts, a minimum price for farmers per season and a long-term plan for the sustainable development of a flourishing cashew sector.”
Since the introduction and immediate withdrawal of an export window for raw cashew nuts in the beginning of 2016, the potentials and challenges of the cashew sector have been on the country’s government agenda.
However, until this date no policies seem to have been put in place to support cashew processors in Ghana.
Sources from the industry recognised the risk that without sector regulations to improve access to raw cashew nuts the Ghanaian cashew industry may collapse, thus affecting actors in the cashew value chain; predominantly cashew farmers.
“We are currently importing raw cashew nuts from our neighboring countries Benin, Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire and at the moment even from Guinea Bissau. We rely on these imports because the majority of raw cashew nuts are exported without adding local value”, said Mr. Falcao.
“We have established the largest cashew processing factory in West Africa with an installed processing capacity of 30,000 metric tonnes per year for raw cashew nut processing and with potential employment opportunities for 2000 people.
However, we currently operate on only 6,000 metric tonnes per year, which is 20 % of the installed processing capacity due to domestic shortages in raw materials”, he added.
As a Ghanaian registered company, USIBRAS Ghana Limited stressed their vision: A flourishing cashew industry in Ghana.
Mr. Falcao explained that: “We are employing about 600 people from the surrounding communities in our factory and are committed to boosting local cashew production.”.
USIBRAS, in cooperation with the Dutch-based NGO Fair Match Support launched a programme to train farmers on good agricultural practices to increase cashew yields and quality.
“We need the farmers to provide our raw materials and we should find a solution that benefits the farmers, in terms of fair prices as well as providing a constant availability of raw material to the processing industry”, he added.
Ghana produces about 68,000 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts per year. The installed raw cashew nut processing capacity of all 13 existing processors amounts to 65,000 metric tonnes per year.
The potential of the cashew sector in the country is tremendous. If the installed processing capacity is used to its fullest potential of 65,000 MT, some 13,000 jobs will be created with an aggregated wage of GHS 39,000,000 for women in rural areas excluding middle and top management of the factory.
Exported raw cashew nut valued at US$ 48,750,000 is less than half the value of processed kernels US$ 113,750,000.