The Government on Monday said it will this year freely distribute 13 million certified cashew seedlings to farmers in 96 districts.
Mr Augustine Collins Ntim, a Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, who made the disclosure, said the distribution is under the National Tree Crop Programme dubbed “Planting for Export and Rural Development” (PERD) Programme.
He recounted that for the pilot year 2018, the programme distributed 9.3 million cashew seedlings to 64,000 farmers in 106 districts and was estimated to contribute about 53 per cent of total contribution of the non-traditional exports to the Ghanaian economy in 2018, an increase from 44 percent in 2017.
“Despite this historic growth record, the Ghanaian cashew farmer is challenged with low productivity, due to poor agricultural practices and low returns on investments.
The Master Training Programme is being organised by the Competitive Cashew Initiative (GIZ/ComCashew) in partnership with the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and the Cocoa Research Institute Ghana (CRIG).
It seeks to increase theoretical knowledge and practical skills of African cashew experts along the value chain and consequently to further promote the competitiveness of African cashew.
The Programme provides a platform for 85 cashew experts coming from nine African countries: Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, to share knowledge, discuss best practices and lessons learnt as well as to build national and regional networks for future collaborations.
Mr Ntim said the Competitive Cashew Initiative made enormous contributions towards the development of the African Cashew Industry since its inception in 2009.
It is a decentralised National Tree Crop Programme to promote rural economic growth and improve household incomes of rural farmers through the provision of certified improved seedlings, extension services, business support and regulatory mechanisms focusing on cashew, coffee, cotton, coconut, citrus, oil palm, mango, rubber and shea value chains.
He said the PERD programme would also engage some 10,000 young graduates as crop specialised extension officers.
Mr Seth Akoto, the Director, Crop Services, MoFA said through collaboration and joint efforts, Africa countries could succeed in strengthening the growth of the cashew sector on the continent.