THE Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has set up a desk to provide comprehensive support for the production and export of cashew nuts.
The Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GEPA, Mr Eric Amoako Twum, disclosed this to the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday ahead of the release of the 2016 non-traditional exports (NTEs) performance.
He said the authority had adopted cashew as its focus non-traditional export (NTE) crop for this year in view of the enormous potential that the crop held, yielding more proceeds per tonne than cocoa beans.
“Cashew has a lot of potential but has been neglected. In terms of its value per tonne, it fetches more than cocoa. So if we provide attention and invest a fraction of what we give to cocoa, it will be a sector that can shore up NTEs and even become a traditional export,” he noted.
He said the authority would later sign a memorandum of understanding with the sector association, while the Ministry of Food and Agriculture had a programme to support cashew production and processing in the country.
Announcing the 2016 performance of NTEs to the press yesterday, the deputy CEO said NTEs for last year were $2.46 billion, a slight dip from the $2.52 billion recorded in 2015.
The authority attributed the low performance to the decline in the export of some processed cocoa products which fell by 16 per cent from $643.3 million in 2015 to $542.3 million last year.
Although the country’s total exports have been declining, the performance of the NTEs means a one per cent average annual growth rate for the last five years, but the GEPA has outlined some ambitious plans to reverse the decline and also boost the exports.
Cashew nut exports amounted to $196.78 million, accounting for 53 per cent of the agricultural products.
Mr Twum said Ghana’s non-traditional exports to the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) market grew by 15 per cent, as against exports to the traditional destination, the European Union market, which declined by 11.8 per cent, an indication that renewed focus on the neighbouring market would boost Ghana’s exports.
Efforts to boost NTEs
Mr Twum said measures to boost NTEs included engaging with committees in districts to identify exportable products; setting up regional offices in all the 10 regions of the country, as well as restructuring the internal operations of the authority, which had started in earnest.
The deputy CEO added that the authority would also establish technical services teams to offer real-time technical advice and support to farmers, producers and exporters, in addition to engaging design consultants to support the craft and creative industry to produce master craftsmen to help exporters to produce to meet export requirements.
The GEPA would also strengthen collaboration with the Ghana Standards Authority to acquire the necessary quality standards for the export market and also liaise with investors to set up state-of-art the manufacturing facilities to produce furniture for the export market, Mr Twum said.
Already, as part of implementing the National Export Strategy (NES) launched in 2013, he stated, the GEPA had set up the NES Project Coordination and Management Unit at GEPA to oversee the implementation of the strategy.
For the sectoral performance, the handicraft sub-sector increased by 22.25 per cent from $4.27 million in 2015 to $5.22 million last year; agricultural products exports yielded $371.1 million, down from $396.9 million the previous year, with processed and semi-processed exports yielding $2.09 billion last year, down from the $2.12 billion received in 2015.
Mr Twum observed that the NTE sector continued to be driven by value-added products such as processed cocoa and canned tuna, but said its full potential was yet to be realised.
“To ensure that NTEs grow as anticipated, there must be a targeted support of the sector as a whole and the lead government agency mandated to facilitate, develop and promote Ghana’s non-traditional exports,” he said.
He, therefore, called for the GEPA to be sufficiently resourced and be properly positioned to enable it to make vital contributions to the overall government agenda for job creation and foreign currency generation.