The global cashew industry has grown rapidly over the past decade, driven by the increasing consumption of cashews around the world. And the raw cashew nut market is expected to continue growing at an annual rate of 4.27% between 2020 and 2025. It is expected to reach nearly $ 7 billion by 2025.

The growing demand for cashews around the world, especially in developed and emerging economies, is due to a number of factors. They include the recognition of their health and nutritional benefits and the growth of plant-based diets. Cashews are also considered a dairy substitute and are a popular tasty snack. They are also an ever popular peanut butter substitute.

African countries are on the front line to meet this growing demand. They have increased their production.

As proof, the African continent now represents more than 50% of raw cashew nuts. About 90% of all African production is exported, mainly to Vietnam and India. These two countries account for 98% of world imports of raw cashew nuts. Vietnam and India shell and process the cashews before re-exporting them to the United States, Europe, the Middle East, China and Australia, where they are in turn roasted, salted and packaged. before being consumed.

The low cashew processing rates in African cashew producing countries are due to a number of factors. These include limited infrastructure and local processors. But a number of African governments have recently put in place policies and measures to address these gaps. There are still some gaps. Research is needed to better understand the structural challenges that constrain local processors.

Ghana is one of the main African producers of cashew nuts. Ghana currently produces around 85,000 metric tonnes of raw cashews each year, which represents around one percent of total world production. Of this total, over 90% is exported to India and Vietnam by Asian exporters and processors.

Cashew nut production in Ghana dates back to the 1960s, with production for export markets expanding significantly over the past decade.

Our research focused on the Brong Ahafo region – now Bono East, Bono and the Ahafo regions. Here, we sought to better understand the dynamics and issues associated with the growth of the cashew sector in Ghana, including the particular challenges faced by local processors.

Local processors face many challenges

Ghana has 14 cashew processing plants, with a total annual capacity of 65,000 metric tonnes of raw cashews. While 10 of these factories are active, they process less than 10% of the total annual cashew production. The remaining processing plants have either ceased operations or closed completely.

There are a number of challenges hampering local cashew processing in Ghana. One of these is the lack of capital to maintain operations, as well as the inability of local processors to access farmers’ raw cashews – the latter problem is exacerbated by poor transport infrastructure. Although local processors can access commercial bank lending and credit facilities, high interest rates leave this option unsustainable, especially for small national operators.

Lack of capital also limits the ability of local processors to purchase raw cashews from farmers. Local processors also face intense competition from foreign processors and exporters – especially from Asia – who are driving up the prices of cashews. While Asian processors and exporters are able to afford high producer prices due to their access to preferential interest rates in their home countries, local processors are unable to compete, leaving them simply unable to compete. to buy raw cashews.

Cashew producers are also showing a preference for selling their nuts to Asian processors and exporters who pay them immediately in cash. Local processors, on the other hand, often buy cashews on credit.

These conditions leave Ghana out of the field, missing out on important job and income generation opportunities through the burgeoning global cashew industry. Recent estimates put this loss at around $ 100 million each year. This loss is mainly linked to Ghana’s inability to process – and therefore add value – to its raw cashews.

The way forward: Ghana should learn from other countries

Governments of major cashew producing countries across Africa are increasingly deploying strategies to increase both production and processing of raw cashews. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire, the largest exporter of raw cashews in the world, an export tax of 30 FCFA per kg of raw cashews was recently introduced. The revenue from this tax is then used to subsidize and support local processors. This has spurred local processing, making Côte d’Ivoire, neighboring Ghana, the largest cashew processor in Africa, with a capacity of 70,000 metric tonnes per year.

Similarly, Mozambique and Tanzania have adopted a series of measures to protect and incentivize local cashew processors. This includes granting local processors preferential access to raw cashew nuts. It also includes the imposition of export duties on raw cashew nuts. Meanwhile, since 2009, Kenya has introduced a ban on the export of raw cashews, a strategy that increased local processing from 30% in 2009 to 80% in 2012.

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority is currently working with the Ghana Cashew Industry Association to increase local processing. This collaboration can benefit from the experiences of other African countries, in particular to guide a national cashew processing strategy.

It is important to note that local processors need to be protected from Asian competitors who come to Ghana to purchase cashews during the cashew harvest season. They also need tax incentives, affordable credit facilities, and modern technology to thrive.

With the right support, Ghana may be able to take advantage of the growing demand for and consumption of cashews in developed and emerging economies, with results that will generate jobs and income.

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