Business News of Monday, 25 February 2013

Source: B&FT

Cashew farmers want foreigners out

Cashew farmers say the involvement of foreigners predominantly Indians in the buying and processing of cashew in the country is adversely affecting the sector as many are undercutting their local rivals.

The farmers say the actions of the foreigners have denied them due price for the commodity and are impeding its supply as a raw material to local companies.

They claim some foreigners who do not have a permit to do business buy cashew cheaper than the due price at the farm gates under the guise of relieving farmers of post-harvest losses.

“Foreigners buy 85kg of cashew for GH¢85, while we buy the same weight of the commodity at GH¢102,” said Anthony Kwaku Adu, President of the National Cashew Farmers Association.

According him, “the invasion of foreigners in the cashew sector is fuelled by some self-centered Ghanaians who assist them to buy for export, gradually collapsing local companies who rely on the crop as a raw material.

“The intruders with their Ghanaian accomplices go as far as farm gates to purchase cashew. If a local company is well supported in large-scale production, it could easily purchase all cashew produced by farmers. We do not need these illegal buyers to make the sector lucrative.”

The foreigners, he said, buy from farmers in remote areas who often are not members of the Association. This is because the Association purchases from only its members, with the view to streamlining the sector by supplying local companies only. The situation has however created an opportunity for the illegal buyers to trade with non-Association members.

In an interview with the B&FT, Mr. Kwaku Adu mentioned two foreign-owned cashew companies at Mim and Nsawkaw (both in Brong Ahafo) as guilty of undercutting members of the Association and operating illegally.

He said the presence of foreigners in the industry is a “massive” threat to employment creation; explaining that the expatriates temporarily persuade a handful of Ghanaians to aid them in their operations.

Mr. Adu, a two-time National Best Cashew Farmer (2004 and 2011), attributed the situation to the “unavailability of a tree-crops policy with legislative backing”.

To this end, he said they presented a petition to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture in 2009, and made a series of follow-ups to get the issue addressed -- but to no avail.

He said Government and all other stakeholders must join the crusade to flush out illegal cashew buyers in the country.

Mr. Adu also mentioned rampant bushfires as another challenge confronting the cashew sector, saying if measures are not taken to curtail the menace, “Ghana will lose all cashew farms to bushfires in the next decade.

“Just last week, I personally lost about four acres of my farm to a bushfire. We need strong action and all hands to on deck to stem this yearly phenomenon.”