Cashew farmers in the Bono Region fear they could lose all their investments if the government does not put in measures to enforce the cashew minimum farm gate price for the 2023 season.
According to the farmers, the influx of cashew from Cote D’Ivoire affects the price in Ghana, and refusal to sell it cheaply means stocks are piled up. They insist the situation requires much tighter border security.
The government on December 15, 2022, announced the minimum farm gate price for cashew as ¢8.50 per kilo from the ¢5 per kilo in the 2022 crop season at Techiman.
This was to ensure that the price of the crop is not below the set minimum price but above, based on negotiations. But the pricing regime seems not to be respected, especially by the buyers and exporters.
The Tree Crop Development Authority is to, among other things, regulate cashew prices. The farmers welcomed its formation and committed more land and other resources to produce more.
Midway through the 2023 cashew season, the farmers in Seikwa in the Tain District, like other communities in the Bono Region- a major producer of the crop, are disappointed and fear for their investment.
They said they now struggle to sell at half the current minimum price of ¢8.50p per kilo.
“Ghana’s cashew season starts before that of Cote D’Ivoire, and it was being sold initially at ¢12 per kilo, but it has dropped to about ¢3. The buyers buy it at the equivalent of ¢5, hence they don’t buy in Ghana at the minimum price,” Sully Mohammed, a cashew farmer at Tanokrom near Seikwa, explained.
They feel the situation is impacting them negatively.
“We have used all our land to cultivate cashew, and our livelihood is affected if it’s not bought,” 82-year-old Paul Kwadwo Mensah lamented and wondered how to raise funds to continue his stalled building project with the bags of unsold cashew.
Elizabeth Tamea expressed worry over how the youth are no longer motivated to join cashew farming due to the debt they are incurring this year.
“Labor is expensive and most of us are unable to pay for the loans used in cultivating the cashew,” another farmer, Victor Kyei, said.
Landowners are said to be refusing to release their land for cashew farming because it has become a risky venture. They hope the government will take pragmatic steps to help stabilize the price.
According to Eric Obour, a farmer at Tanokrom, “The buyers buy from Cote D’Ivoire because they say their price is cheap.”
He explained that they tried reporting the buyers to the police some weeks ago when the price dropped, but it didn’t work. They, therefore, called on the government to set up a task force to monitor and enforce the implementation of the minimum price throughout the season.
African star cashew farmers’ cooperative manager in Seikwa, Solomon Ameyaw, said beyond the excuse of quality nuts and low price of the nuts from Cote D’Ivoire is the low cost of exporting through Ghana.
He insists the Ghana crops are of good quality, and the exporters only buy from outside and export through Ghana just to benefit from the country’s low cost of exporting.
“People are buying cashew from somewhere (Cote D’Ivoire) and the government has to come in and ensure that no cashew crosses the border during the Ghana cashew season,” Mr. Ameyaw emphasized. He said if the borders are closed, the buyers will have no option but to buy from the Ghanaian farmers.
He further said the Tree Crop Development Authority must be up and doing to save farmers’ investment to assure them that they are not working in vain.
The farmers also appealed to the government to provide a cashew depot at Seikwa and surrounding communities.
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