ACCRA, Ghana must look to strengthening its cashew industry to replace cocoa as the effects of climate change continue into the future, says the Chief Business Officer of the Africa Cashew Alliance (ACA), Sunil Dahiya, who notes that the effects of climate effects are so profound that the planet will not be able to cool off in a few years even if activities which contribute to climate change are stopped.

Climate change should be a red alert for governments which depend on cocoa production, as the crop will not be able to thrive under higher temperatures, he warned when addressing a Cashew Stakeholders’ Forum, organized by the African Cashew Alliance and hosted by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, here Wednesday.

He added that it was therefore important for Ghana, and Africa as a whole, to look at alternative crops which would be better able to thrive in the environment which would result from increasing effects of climate change such as cashews and start creating awareness.

Dahiya said cashew held tremendous potential for foreign exchange earnings as well as job creation for Africa through value addition and should be prioritised by governments in Africa, including Ghana.

He noted that a reduction in the export of raw cashew would contribute to reducing the carbon foot-print in Africa by 200 per cent since cashews would no longer have to be sent to India or Brazil for processing.

Africa currently produces about 55 per cent of the world crop of cashew nuts, with the rest coming from India, Brazil and Vietnam, among others. The cashew industry, the world’s second biggest producer behing Cote d’Ivoire, sees great demand but production is not high enough to meet the growing local and foreign demand.

The forum, which was attended by people involved in the production, marketing, processing and export of cashew, was organized to develop a 10-year vision for the sector covering 2017 to 2027.

Key elements for the vision, suggested by the stakeholders included value addition, diversified markets, increased production and processing, government engagement, training, sustainability and improved competitiveness of African cashew among others.