The coronavirus pandemic has almost not spared any sector of the world’s economy. In Ghana, the agric sector has also been affected in one way or another. One crop that has been severely impacted is the cashew nut.
Cashew is the country’s leading non-traditional export earner, generating 378 million dollars in 2018. The Jaman North District alone can boast of about 300 cashew farmers making it a hub of cashew production in the country.
The cashew beans are exported to either India or Vietnam, however since the outbreak of COVID-19, cashew farmers have been struggling.
Citi Business News’ Michael Sarpong Mfum, who visited some cashew farmers in the Jaman North District of the Bono Region, where some are recording loses as they’re forced to sell below the expected prices due to limited buyers and a reduction in export.
“The pandemic has actually affected our sales in the sense that the buyers who were buying from us closed down their depots and they couldn’t get anywhere to sell. So, some people were taking advantage of us to buy it at as low as 2. 50 Ghana cedis per kilogram. That was very disheartening because our break-even point is 3. 50 so if we should sell at 3 cedis or 2 cedis or whatever then still you are far far below the break-even point,” one farmer lamented.
The cashew farmers are not the only people affected by the disease, as local industries in the Jaman North District have also not been spared.
The Kabile Cashew Cooperative Factory located at Kabile lost an international contract because of COVID-19, according to its Manager, Matthew Sah.
“It has decreased our production, even now we don’t have start-up capital to buy raw materials and process, but some people came from Europe, they came to me that they want to buy raw materials so that we process for them to send it. But because of this COVID-19 they went back, the contract couldn’t succeed,” he said.
President of the Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association, GARDJA, Richmond Frimpong, has been touring the Jaman North District to understand the plight of farmers in these trying times.
“We at GARDJA realized that the cashew sector has not been given the needed attention by the media. As a result of that, there are a lot of challenges within the sector so GARDJA members decided to come here to ascertain the reality on the ground.”
Attempts by Citi Business News to speak to some buyers were however unsuccessful.