The Minister of Trade and Industry Ekow Spio Garbrah has backtracked on an administrative decision he issued on Monday banning exports of cashew nuts.
In a press statement late Friday, the minister said the ministry " wishes to temporarily withdraw the Administrative Directive for the Exportation of Raw Cashew Nut" to enable it widen "its consultations with stakeholders in order to ensure that the cashew industry becomes competitive in a broad-based manner that would lead to job creation and the general well-being of all stakeholders."
The statement said other issues informing the suspension includes;
• The view that the timing for the implementation of the directive would be best when traders or agents who have purchased RCN for exports would not have challenges with warehousing cost, deterioration in quality and the loss in weight of RCN;
• Acceptance of the view that ideally the directive should have been issued at the beginning of the year to enable farmers, agents and traders plan for the management of the impact;
• The challenge of managing the transit through Ghana from Burkina Faso of RCN for export though Ghanaian ports.
The ban incensed the MPs from the ruling government who rarely criticise government ministers.
The Majority leader Alban Bagbin said the minister was acting like ‘Don Quixote’ and that the directive has no legal basis.
Deputy Majority Chief Whip and Member of Parliament for Banda in the Brong Ahafo region, Mr. Ahmed Ibrahim described the directive as “very weak and illegal,” questioning the basis of the directive.
Cashew farmers derided the directive, saying the directive is putting the farmers at the mercy of two processing cashew plants.
The statement also announced measures by the trade ministry to boost cashew production.
1. Support for the National Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) to enable them purchase the Raw Cashew Nuts (RCN) and establish a “Just-in-Time” inventory to ensure that the indigenous processors have an all-year-round supply of RCN.
2. Initiate discussions concerning establishment of a credit scheme for cashew farmers.
3. Assist indigenous processors to purchase the RCN.
4. Examine the merits of the setting up of the Ghana Cashew Management Board to license, supervise and monitor all activities in the cashew value chain.
5. Work with stakeholders to propose and implement a 10-year cashew development plan for Ghana. This would seek to ensure the development and expansion of the cashew industry and also increase the country’s production to at least 200,000MT by the year 2025.