By: Gideon Kwame Sarkodie Osei
The Ghana Agricultural and Rural Development Journalists Association (GARDJA) has launched an advocacy initiative to help create a sustainable cashew sector in Ghana.
Cashew is increasingly becoming a key agricultural export commodity, raking in millions of dollars for the country’s economy. According to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), the country earned $981 million from the export of cashew in 2016, making it one of the leading agricultural export commodities after cocoa.
The crop is currently grown on more than 89,000 hectares of farmlands across the country, creating an estimated 40,000 jobs in production and even more in processing and logistics. Ghana has the capacity to grow more cashew because of its potential to adapt to climate change effects, and its profitability. But this possible expansion is being hindered by a number of challenges including difficulty in accessing finance, weak organization of stakeholders, underexploited potential of local processing, low yields, and insufficient access to improved planting material, as well as the overall absence of an enabling policy environment. Over the years, sufficient media attention has not been paid to these challenges so they catch the attention of decision makers to address them.
As part of this initiative, GARDJA will work with various partners to increase cashew related visibility in the Ghanaian media, as well as strengthen capacities of media stakeholders so they can put cashew issues at the forefront of media and political discussions. Information on agronomic practices of cashew, farmer related activities, organization of stakeholders, prices, climate change adaptation, and mitigation, among others, will be disseminated to journalists. The initiative will also seek to bring to the fore issues around the current state of local processing of cashew and provide answers to questions on how an enabling environment for the sector can be created.
Overall, the objective of this collaboration is to strengthen and build the technical capacities of journalists and editors, as well as other relevant media stakeholders on the cashew value chain through training, field visits, and support for the publication of cashew related stories.
As an association of more than 200 journalists who are experts within the agricultural value chain, it is the hope of GARDJA’s that this initiative will go a long way to help create a sustainable cashew sector that both support good quality livelihoods for cashew farmers and improve the Ghanaian economy. The Association looks forward to working with various stakeholders including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, cashew farmers, cashew processors, among others to make this initiative a success for the benefit of mother Ghana.