Minister for Trade & Industry, Ekow Spio-Gabrah has withdrawn his directive banning the exportation of raw cashew nuts until June, 2016.
The move, he noted, is a temporarily measure, believing that it will create enough space for consultation among all the players in the industry in order to arrive at a decision that will be in the best interest of all.
Among the issues that informed the withdrawal include the view that the timing for the implementation of the directive would be best when traders or agents who have purchased RCN for exports would not have challenges with warehousing cost, deterioration in quality and the loss in weight of RCN;
Acceptance of the view that ideally the directive should have been issued at the beginning of the year to enable farmers, agents and traders plan for the management of the impact; and
The challenge of managing the transit through Ghana from Burkina Faso of RCN for export though Ghanaian ports.
The withdrawal comes at the backdrop of criticism from Members of Parliament who described the ban on raw cashew exportation as illegal.
Mr. Spio-Gabrah in an attempt to protect the 14 local cashew processing factories currently operating in Ghana recently directed that “hence forth, all traders and processors are to note that they are allowed to purchase raw cashew nuts during the main harvesting season from January – June but export of raw cashew is not permitted on after May 31, 2016”.
He further directed that any raw cashew nuts that are brought to the ports or borders of Ghana for export between March 31, 2016 and May 31, 2016 shall be confiscated to the State.
The Minister’s directive was premised on the concern that as much as 95% of Ghana’s total production of cashew nuts estimated at 68,000MT in its raw form are sent to overseas for
Therefore, local farmers are unable to obtain adequate supplies of raw materials for processing due to intensive competition, with purchases from traders at the farm gate.
“This situation is stifling the Ministry’s objective of promoting value addition under the National Export Development Program (NEPD) that is 2016 – 2020 which seeks to increase earnings from the non-traditional export sector.
But his directive was met with stiff opposition by the Second Majority Chief Whip of Parliament and MP for Banda, Hon. Ibrahim Ahmed.
He told a fully packed Parliament, Thursday that the directive from the Trade & Industry Minister was “weak and illegal”, stressing that it had the tendency of collapsing the cashew industry.
He therefore, called on Parliament to prevail on Spio-Gabrah to suspend with immediate effect the directive he has issued to stop the exportation of cashew until June this year.
“Mr. Speaker, under what law is the Minisitry going to confiscate raw cashew nut without any due process? If we want to protect the few processing companies in the country, it must not be at the expense of the poor farmers who constitute the majority”, he noted.
Reacting to the lifting of the ban in an exclusive interview on the sidelines of Parliament, Hon. Ahmed applauded the Trade Minister for “doing what is right”.