Cashew nuts emerged as the only agricultural product that ranked among the top 10 leading non-traditional export (NTE) products in 2021, a report by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority has revealed.

It contributed 60.38 percent of the total earnings from the agricultural sub-sector, 14.35 percent higher than what it did in the year 2020.

According to the 2021 report, the total value of the top 10 leading products amounted to $2 billion, representing 62.96 percent of total NTE earnings for 2021 which stands at $3.3 billion.

Export Strategy

The report noted that due to the potential of the crop, cashew nut had been prioritised among the integrated list of 17 products earmarked for attention as part of GEPA’s export development strategy.

It said under the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS), an approach had been adopted to add value to raw materials as part of the country’s industrialization drive.

“The focus of NEDS is the integrated list of priority products. In total, the priority products on the integrated list are projected to generate at least $24.1 billion in export revenue by the end of the implementation of the NEDS in 2029,” it said.

In the strategy document that also details the potential, limitations and policy proposals of the cashew industry, GEPA said the country needed to prioritise domestic processing of the cashew nuts over raw exports, given the impact on revenues, job creation and the development of a full value chain on cashew.

It said although factories in the country had the capacity to process about 60,000 metric tonnes of the product annually, the majority of them were idle as most buyers preferred to export the nuts in their raw form.

It explained that a study conducted by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture found that of every 100 metric tonnes of raw cashew nut (RCN) that was exported, the economy lost about 30 jobs at the processing level and about $60,800 in income that would have gone to workers in the factories.

Export tariffs

The GEPA report said the current situation where the country exported almost all its raw cashew nuts undermined its agenda to add value to exports and to create a robust industry that supported economic development.

It said the government could also consider protecting the sale of raw cashew nuts by offering incentives to those who sold their nuts to the local processors.

“Export tariffs for raw cashew nuts can be increased to discourage the export of the nuts without value addition,” it said.

Meanwhile, the Cashew Industry Association of Ghana has drawn up a 10-year cashew development plan that seeks to, among other things, embark on a rapid planting and mass spraying programme to ensure that by the year 2029, the country will achieve its annual local cashew harvest of at least 500,000 metric tonnes.