The cashew industry generated 170 million dollars in the form of foreign exchange earnings for the economy in 2013.
Mr Justice Samuel Adjei, Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister who made this known in Sunyani said the industry is the largest contributor to non-traditional export crops.
The Deputy Regional Minister was speaking at the closing session of a five-day master training programme, for stakeholders in the cashew sector, drawn Ghana, Burkina-Faso, Togo, Benin, Cote D’Iviore, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Attended by 60 participants, the training programme was organised by the African Cashew Initiative (ACi) in collaboration with African Cashew Alliance with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana.
It was aimed at developing a pool of certified cashew experts in West Africa, with in-depth knowledge on the cashew value chain.
Mr Adjei said the impact of cashew on poverty reduction and the environment in the Savanna regions has been significant.
He entreated investors who are interested in the cashew industry to come into the region and take advantage of the suitable land and vegetation that promote the cultivation of the highly economic crop.
Mr Siegfried Leffler, Country Director of German Development Cooperation, one of the funding agencies, said ACi has so far trained about 300,000 cashew farmers in the participating countries with increase of their annual income by 12 million Euros.
In addition, he said 20 processors in West-Africa had received technical and business advisory support in its build up phase and employing more than 5,000 people.
Mr Leffler noted that the challenges in the young African cashew sector are multiple and needed the efforts of all actors – producers, processors, buyers, governments, NGOs and expert services.
He explained that the cooperation would continue to fulfill its core business capacity development for African countries which include building individual knowledge, as well as institutional development and networking.
Ann-Christin Berger, Communication Manager, ACi said the first two sessions of the Master Training Programme were successfully held in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso in December 2013 and Bouaké, Côte d’Ivoire in April 2014.
“At the heart of this comprehensive Master Training Programme are facilitators and technical experts who teach, evaluate and potentially re-design each training session according to participants’ needs,” she added.
Participants were presented with certificates after going through topics such as the economics of cashew production and cashew processing, development of improved planting material, data collection methods for proper monitoring and evaluation as well as alternative and innovative media for disseminating information and collecting data.