Cashew farmers in the Bono and Bono East Regions have reiterated their call on government to support them to increase their yield and also regulate pricing to ensure fair trade.
The farmers made the call when two thousand and fifty of them from 21 communities received bonus packages from Red River Foods Ghana Limited for the 2020 purchase season.
Cashew is currently Ghana’s highest Non-Traditional Export. It earned the country $2.8 billion in 2018 compared to 2.5 billion in 2017.
Despite its contribution to the economy, the cashew sector faces many challenges including lack of incentives for farmers, and the absence of a regulator to ensure fair pricing.
As a result, an American company, Red River Foods Ghana Limited, three years ago instituted a bonus package and other interventions for cashew farmers who sell their products to them.
The company buys the cashew beans for export and processing in other countries.
In all, 2,050 Cashew farmers in 21 communities of the Bono and Bono East Regions benefited from the 2020 bonus package.
Farmers who sold one tonne of cashew beans to the company received 500 cedis.
Wayne Tilton, the Director of Operations of Red River Foods in Africa in an interview with Citi Business News said, “The company has been in business for over forty years now. We are one of the largest importers of cashew kernels into the US, and we understand it is in West Africa that the cashew are grown. So want to build a sustainability in the communities that we work with. We have been working with farmers, I started in 2011 and we have offices in Ghana, Benin and Ivory Coast. We want to make ensure that the farmers are getting the best pricing they can, so in addition to paying them the farm gate price, we want to give them incentives. We are paying them 50 pesewas per kilo, we are paying them in the non-cashew season, so we are paying them in July, and July is when they need the money the most because the cashew money has run out.”
Some of the beneficiary cashew farmers who commended the company for the support, however called on government to support them to increase their yield.
Kwame George, a cashew farmer at Bonkwae in the Techiman Municipality said, ” Some time ago we used to sell the cashew to individuals, and after that they do not give us anything. But with Red River, every year pay us bonus two months after we have sold our beans to them. We use the bonus to weed our farms. Formerly we could not weed our farms, at times we are able to get five thousand,four thousand and three thousand cedis, and it has really helped us.”
Seth Frimpong, another cashew farmer said, “The bonus has helped us in many ways. We use it to clear our farms. I am calling on government to support us to expand our farms. Though Red River has helped we would need government’s help too.”
Apart from the bonus packages paid to the farmers, they also prune the cashew trees for free.
As part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives, it has donated Veronica Buckets and nose masks to farmer cooperatives in Agosa , Bonkwae and Nkwaeso.