Africa is currently the leading producer of cashew, providing more than 50 per cent of global output, Mrs. Juliana Ofori-Karikari, Finance and Administration Manager of Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) said in Sunyani.
Speaking on behalf of the Executive Director of ComCashew at the opening of the second session of the Sixth Edition of the Master training Programme (MTP) on cashew value chain promotion, Mrs. Ofori-Karikari said development of improved planting materials and good agricultural practices (GAP) were key aspects of ensuring sustainable production.
The five day programme, organised by ComCashew in partnership with African Cashew Alliance (ACA)with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) provided a platform for 86 Cashew experts from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Voire, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
It sought to increase theoretical knowledge and practical skills of African Cashew experts along the value chain and consequently to further promote the competiveness of African cashew in addition to sharing knowledge, discuss best practices and lessons learnt and to build national and regional networks for future collaboration.
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She said the interventions of ComCashew and its partners had created at least 330,000 jobs in the cashew production sector across the operating countries, out of which 22 per cent were women.
Mrs. Ofori-Karikari said beginning with 14 women in the very first edition of the MTP, the number of female participants rose steadily to 25 now, emphasising that 20 per cent of the over 250 experts trained through the MTP from Africa were women.
She announced that with MoFA and CRIG, another nursery had been established to produce high quality seedling in the Ashanti Region, adding that earlier this year, ComCashew provided financial support in the production of the first batch of 30,000 grafted seedlings to be distributed also in Ashanti.
Similarly in Sierra Leone, Mrs. Ofori-Karikari indicated that ComCashew imported 1.5 metric tonnes of “cashew polyclonal seed” from Ghana to raise 275,000 seedlings that had been distributed to 24 nursery sites and planted with the help of the Sierra Leone Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security.
Mr. Kingsley Mensah, the ACA’s Finance and Administration Manager said the ACA collaborated with technical partners like ComCashew not only to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of the African cashew industry but also to increase production and processing of cashews on the continent.
The ACA was currently working on creating awareness of cashew policies from across the globe, so that industry players could examine and implement adequate and suitable ones for their respective countries, he said.
Mr. Mensah added that aside policy regulation, the ACA was also working on revamping value addition in Ghana because several of the processing units in the country had been shut down due to various reasons but value addition on raw cashew nuts could be a source of increased revenue to boost the economy.
All sessions of the programme covered cross-cutting issues such as gender, policy development, sector regulations and nutrition value of cashew products.