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Ghana’s credibility as a quality cashew nut source in question due to poor post-harvest practices

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Ghana’s reputation as a reliable source of quality cashew nuts is at risk due to poor post-harvest practices by some farmers and aggregators. According to the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA), some farmers and aggregators are not allowing cashew nuts to dry to the required standard of at least 10 percent moisture content before releasing them onto the market.

This is a requirement for international markets to meet the kernel outturn ratio (KOR). The result is that some buyers are concerned about the quality of nuts from Ghana. Over the past two years, the country has lost credibility in terms of providing quality cashew nuts on the world market.

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The high moisture level causes respiration, leading to mouldy nuts before reaching the export destination. Consequently, many cashew nuts were in a terrible condition upon reaching final destinations and were rejected last year. Jerry Anim of the Directorate of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has condemned the practice of aggregators buying from farmers immediately after harvest to beat the competition.

In response to the problem, TCDA has put up a set of regulations that restrict aggregators from buying nuts straight after picking. Before any produce leaves the country’s shores, an independent quality-check will ascertain its quality. These regulations will be presented to parliament for approval.

Deputy CEO of TCDA, Foster Boateng, is urging cashew farmers and processors to dry their nuts to at least 10 percent moisture content to get good market value and meet the kernel outturn ratio. Farmers who supply moist cashew to the market lose value on the market as cashew nuts that do not meet the KOR lose their value.

Mr. Boateng stated that competition between cashew farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire during the second season is another factor influencing farmers to supply moist cashew to the market. During this period, farmers are unable to dry crops properly due to rain. Cote d’Ivoire has a lower minimum farm gate price for their cashew nuts than Ghana, and also produces larger volumes. As a result, aggregators choose to patronize those from Cote d’Ivoire instead of Ghana’s during this period.

For the most part, Ghana’s reputation as a reliable source of quality cashew nuts is being eroded due to poor post-harvest practices by some farmers and aggregators. TCDA has put up regulations to address the problem, but it is important for farmers and processors to ensure cashew nuts are dried to at least 10 percent moisture content to get good market value and meet the kernel outturn ratio.

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