Statistics from the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) indicate that earnings from Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) increased from $2.84 billion in 2020 to $3.33 billion in 2021. According to the report, the top 10 leading products which comprised cocoa paste, cocoa butter, cashew nuts, articles of plastics, canned tuna, iron/steel, natural rubber sheets, refined palm olein, cocoa powder, and aluminium plates contributed up to $2.096bn representing 62.96% of the total NTE earnings for 2021. From the above, it is evident to conclude that agricultural produce constitutes a larger portion of the NTEs.
Out of the list of agricultural products, cashew nuts have contributed significantly to the steady rise in NTE earnings. Over the years, the demand for cashew nuts has increased significantly in the trade between Ghana and several Asian countries including India and Vietnam. The West African nation has positioned itself as a net exporter of the commodity to the second-most populous country in South Asia (India) and Vietnam, with export values of US$ 533 million and US$ 445 million respectively. It is therefore not surprising that most Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana’s export sector are involved in the production and export of cashew nuts. One such entity is Jabag Multi Haven Enterprise.
The India Inspiration
After feeling unfulfilled as a vertical and venetian blinds technician for several corporate organizations, despite being self-employed, Mr. Jacob Amponsah Baah, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Jabag Multi Haven Enterprise decided to start a journey in the agricultural sector. Upon identifying India’s high demand for cashew nuts, he ventured into its production and export. During one of his routine maintenance activities, Mr. Baah encountered an Indian national who was the CEO of an alcoholic beverage production company in Ghana. The two had discussions on the potentials of producing and exporting cashew nuts to India where the demand for the commodity is high. He was convinced beyond reasonable doubt to venture into the production of cashew nuts after realizing its potential.
Mr. Baah’s Indian friend had promised him a ready market in Ghana for his alcoholic beverage production company as well as the potential to export the produce to India where the demand for the commodity was high.
Unfazed by the financial requirements involved, Mr. Baah used the GH¢ 2,000.00 he received as payment for the service rendered as seed money to invest in his newfound entrepreneurial adventure; initially travelling to the Brong Ahafo region to research the cashew trade (where to get it, warehouse rental and procurement of the sack for the business, etc.). In an interview with the Shipping Review in Accra, Mr. Amponsah Baah said he also invested in “quality marketing tools and strategies to help get my commodity trade off the ground.”
He was compelled to travel to India to learn and master the acceptable standards for exporting cashew nuts before commencing his journey.
“I bought a truckload of cashew to supply the Indian man who introduced me to the business, then I enquired about what he going to use the cashew for. He informed me that he was an intermediary that buys large quantities of cashew nuts for exports to India. After that, I decided to go to India to explore their market. On my return, I felt convinced and ready to commence my journey in the production and export of raw cashew nuts to India and have been doing that till date.”, he said.
Currently, the company has expanded and has included Sesame seeds and Soya beans in the list of agricultural products that it exports.
Focus on Customer Satisfaction
Customer Satisfaction is at the heart of the operations of Jabag Multi Haven Enterprise. The CEO, Mr. Jacob Amponsah Baah, mentioned that he was encouraged to venture into the processing and export of cashew nuts by a satisfied customer (the above-mentioned CEO from India), while he was still a blinds technician.
The company does not compromise on quality; it focuses on honouring its contract with clients in a timely manner. It maintains a minimum capacity of 509 metric tonnes and a maximum of 1500 metric tonnes annually.
Like any other SME in the sector, Jabag Multi Haven Enterprise has had its fair share of challenges since its establishment in 2006. According to Mr. Baah, the biggest challenge faced in the export of cashew nuts to India is the difficulties in negotiating the right price for the commodity. This according to him is affecting his capacity to generate the needed income to sustain his business and stay afloat.
This challenge he says is not peculiar to his business alone, adding that, other exporters face similar challenges. To this end, Mr. Baah has appealed to the government and relevant stakeholders to intervene.
He pointed out that the performance of Cashew nuts as one of the list of top ten (10) NTEs in 2021 is proof that it has the potential to generate the needed foreign exchange for Ghana, provided that the country prioritize the sector.