HomeFeatureOn tour, on a cashew farm in Sogakope

On tour, on a cashew farm in Sogakope

There’s a growing global trend that has begun taking shape here in Ghana as well, thanks to the Ghana Food Movement, a network of game-changers in food and agriculture, seeking to create awareness around our food systems and opportunities. The movement, together with their collaborators, particularly eco-conscious tour operators, Jolinaiko, have been curating some truly authentic, respectful, and inspiring agritourism exchanges in memorable travel experiences that are organized to minimize the impact on the environment and result in opportunities for the people and communities that are involved in responsible farming practices. PaJohn Bentsifi Dadson joined their latest “food safari” which travelled along Ghana’s cashew value chain and met farmers, innovators, experts who are doing things to cashew, and says cashew production could actually be one of the game-changers for Ghana’s food security.

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Worldwide, the annual demand for cashew nuts grows at around 7% year on year, leading to the crop being predicted to represent some 30% of the current global nut market. In Ghana, cashew trees can grow and produce well in the savanna transitional zones in districts found in the Upper West, Northern, Bono, Ahafo, Central, and Volta Regions.
Agritourism, which involves any agriculturally based operation or activity that brings visitors to a farm or ranch, strengthens local economies, create job opportunities and new businesses as well as develop, promote, train, and introduce young people to agriculture and the environment.

It is people who are interested in consuming healthy food and sharing their experiences with their immediate families who have aroused the curiosity to know how crops are produced and livestock is raised, that has led to farm tourism or agritourism sites to flourish. And it is the desire of the Ghana Food Movement to eventually use this agritourism revolution to entice more people into farming, or food production, more specifically. Particularly, in one that leads to producing healthy foods with high-quality standards. The exposure the food safaris bring to various underdog crops, like cashew, millet, and fonio is quite inspiring.

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Daps Amimbola runs one of the vastest cashew plantations in the Volta Region. The cashew tour makes a stop at his nursery in Tefle, where Daps enlightens participants on how to nurse, graft, and grow high-yielding cashew trees. On his farm, Volta Cashew, we met Olivia, who has been working consistently there for the past five and has 5 young children, some while working. It was fascinating to see how deft she has become at grafting and generally nursing the seedlings and caring for the young plants. It was, however, the list of the various food and drinks that can be made from the cashew fruit that piqued my interest.

Leila Borges, a Brazilian chef, who served us an outstanding vegan Cashew Apple Burgers and fresh Cashew Apple Juice, grew up in the Central region of her home country and is educated in the use of medicinal plants including cashew in this field. She has, apparently, been fascinated by the wide range of usability of the cashew fruit since her teenage years. And, indeed, it seems the cashew tree gives us so much more than just party nuts! The nut adjoins an apple which I learned has 20 times more vitamin C than oranges!

When finally, we soothed the distress of a traffic jam we got caught in on our way back along the Prampram-Tema stretch of the road, it was with a tasty brew of Mimm Cashew Brandy Cocktails. Triple distilled for a smooth pull, it went down well neat, as well as on the rocks, or with orange juice and other cocktail spices.

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Then, to my utter surprise, perhaps, what stunned me most among the by-products of the crop, was this rather exquisitely cured cheese! Produced by Sovegan Foods, it comes in a variety of flavours, including a herby, tamarind, seeded spice, and roasted bell pepper. What do you know! Now there’s vegan cheese!

Experts from the African Cashew Alliance were also at hand and shared knowledge on the cashew industry, urging us to take up cashew farming, that it is lucrative. The crop commodity is test quality and price determination at CWT Commodities in Tema before export, and there, we ended the tour after lab technicians there demonstrated how to run their processes.

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