THE Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has developed a code of practice for the cashew industry which is intended for the production of healthy planting materials for cashew production in the country to bring quality, consistency and regulation into the production of Ghana's second major cash crop.
The 12-page standards document entails guidance on fertiliser application, a field layout for the cashew seedling cultivation, equipment, materials and tools needed for nursery establishment, and labour supervision, among others.
The standard development was in partnership with the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), an international economic development organisation that creates business solutions to tackle poverty.
During a stakeholders' sensitisation on the standard in Accra last Wednesday (August 3), the Agricultural Technical Committee Chairman at the GSA, Bernard Boateng, stated that although cashew production in Ghana had been an age-long venture, the country didn't have any standards to regulate the production in spite of the economic benefit of the crop.
“Other crops such as cocoa and palm nuts have standards and regulations, so we thought it wise that we also regulate cashew to enable the country to reap more benefits from it.
“So if you are not a farmer and you have access to land and capital and you want to do a large cashew plantation, then you can be sure that you can source your material from credible people who are going by standards,” Mr Boateng stated.
He indicated that many more people were branching off into the agro-economic industry, thus the need to ensure that the structures were laid right.
“In other countries, some have made the production and selling of coconut and mango seedlings their main businesses, and these entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for quality seedlings. So there is the need to ensure that all seedlings are of the standard quality for the industry, and cashew cannot be left out,” he emphasised.
Cashew crops, he said, were perennial crops which took a longer period to mature, thus the need for more scrutiny to select the best seedling to avoid wasting time, energy and resources.
Background of the code
The Country Director for MEDA, Robert E. Austin, commended GSA for the drive to successfully conclude the code of practice.
Mr Austin said MEDA, through its Farmers' Economic Advancement Through Seedlings (FEATS) project, had improved the economic well-being of many farmers and strengthened tree crop industries in Ghana, including cashew.
The plan, Mr Austin said, was strategically designed to increase the country's cashew production from 80,000 metric tonnes to 300,000 metric tonnes.
The development plan, he said, included the requirement for the production of over 19 million improved grafted seedlings to help establish the needed cashew plantations to bring the country's total output of raw cashew nuts to the target of 300,000 metric tonnes by 2027.