A Master Training Program to promote the African Cashew Value Chain

A Master Training Program to promote the African Cashew Value Chain

All together 62 participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Sierra-Leone and Togo will take part in this unique learning event. The program aims at developing a pool of certified West African cashew experts with in-depth knowledge on the cashew value chain. After completing the seven months training, the cashew experts are able to train farmers, and advice companies, organizations and institutions in their home countries.

Linking theoretical knowledge to practical experiences.

The Master Training Program is divided into three successive sessions held in Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. During the first session, participants learn about a functioning cashew value chain and market dynamics. A highlight of this session is the cashew factory visit of ANATRANS.  The second training deals with the application of good agricultural practices and its implication on the cashew processing industry. The third session covers topics such as supply chain management, finances, investments and business ethics. In between the trainings, participants return to their host institutions/organizations to conduct “homework”, either individually or in groups, to deepen knowledge on a selected topic. All training and homework activities consider cross-cutting issues such as gender, policy development, sector regulations and nutrition value.

Get to know partners. Share knowledge. Discuss practical experiences.

The African Cashew initiative (ACi) developed an online forum to link all participants of the Master Training Program. “This learning platform is accessible at all times from anywhere, either via mobile phone or the computer. Real time exchange across national borders ensures regional exchange, learning and innovation. It enhances the quality of the training significantly” said Andre Tandjiekpon, Manager of the Master Training Program at ACi. “In the beginning of next year, the online cashew community will be accessible for all actors in the cashew sector. It is a place to discuss best practices, to share success stories and to build relationships with actors along the cashew value chain in Africa”, he added.

The African Cashew initiative (ACi)

The African Cashew initiative constitutes a new type of multi‐stakeholder partnership in development cooperation. The initiative is mainly funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. GIZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH has been commissioned with the management of the project. Its implementing partners Technoserve and FairmatchSupport provide consultation on technical issues, as well as business advice to processors and facilitate linkages between farmers and processors. ACi especially benefits from the diverse commercial and technical expertise of their private and public sector partners. Important cooperation partners in Burkina Faso are the Ministry of Agriculture with its regional directorates, the Centre National de Semences Forestieres (CNSF), the Institute de l’Environnement et de la Recherché Agricole (INERA), GIZ bilateral projects like the Programme de développement agricole (PDA) as well as cashew processors, their national association “l’association nationale des transformateurs d’anacarde” (ANTA) and the cashew producers association “l’ Union nationale des producteurs d’anacarde” (UNPA).

A Letter of Appreciation from the Minister of Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire

A Letter of Appreciation from the Minister of Agriculture in Côte d’Ivoire

ACi’s long-term goals of promoting African cashews and a sustainable reduction in poverty are in line with the government’s objective to improve farmer income by strengthening their position in the cashew value chain, writes Mr. Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly, the Ivorian Minister of Agriculture.

Since the strategic reforms in March 2013, the Ivorian government has been committed to building up the national cashew sector. In October 2013, ARECA and ACi signed a cooperation agreement to jointly promote the development the cashew sector in Côte d’Ivoire. The Minister of Agriculture, in his letter of appreciation, encourages ACi and ARECA to work hand in hand on the road to a flourishing cashew sector.


Audio postcard: An interview with cashew farmer Adu Agi Trun

Audio postcard: An interview with cashew farmer Adu Agi Trun

Adu Agi Trun is a cashew farmer at Amomaso in the Brekum district. He started cashew farming almost 20 years ago. Mr Trun usually harvests only a few bags on his small farm. After receiving technical advice from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, he used improved planting material and applied good agricultural practices. The result is astonishing with up to 25 bags on the same farm.

From January to June, ten radio shows on topics along the cashew value chain were broadcasted in the Brong Ahafo Region. BAR FM and Royal FM are the two radio stations committed to support farmers in the area. Farmers in six cashew growing communities reported individually and in groups. The Cashew Radio Hour gave them a feeling of belonging and to be 'real cashew farmers'. Listening to cashew experts convinced them to apply the recommended practices. It not only increased cashew quality but also their annual income.

Listen to Adu Agi Trun here

Transparent trading with smartphone technology

Transparent trading with smartphone technology

For many smallholder farmers, selling their cashew crop has been transformed in recent years, thanks to the application of some state-of-the-art business technology. Developed and tested in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Uganda since 2010, the Virtual Cooperatives software allows groups of cashew, shea nut and coffee producers to carry out a range of ‘high volume’ transactions using applications on smartphones. Advanced systems used by both sellers and buyers for tagging, tracing and selling agricultural produce are among the most important. Though the prototypical software is still in the pilot phase, genuine transactions between participating farmers and traders have been undertaken covering over 13 cropping seasons in seven sites, with more than 12.000 producers already registered on the system.

The system, developed by business software company SAP in partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and the African Cashew initiative (ACi), electronically tracks sales of crops by assigning barcoded sacks to each smallholder in the cooperative. Every sack of nuts the group intends to trade is then scanned by buying agents with their smartphone. They also type the weight of the sack into the smartphone app in order to calculate the price, based on recent market data. Once the sale is made, the farmer immediately receives a digital receipt of the transaction and it is electronically recorded in the cooperative's books.

Software development

The technology was developed utilizing advanced research methodologies, which aim to apply a holistic approach to business and technology. Close and regular interaction with end users is central to the method and crucial for success. For example participatory workshops were organised with cooperative members in order to explore their challenges for cashew sales and logistics, design user-friendly screens, and develop the functionality of the software applications.
The first pilots were carried out during Ghana’s cashew season between March and June 2011, during which around 400 farmers were registered and more than 100 tons of raw cashews were traded. SAP supported the implementation by supplying the necessary equipment (smartphones and barcode stickers, etc,) – training activities, regular communication with all the local stakeholders and deploying the custom-built application.

Boosting efficiency

The Virtual Cooperative system has helped farmers improve their organizational efficiency, ensure transparency of business operations and run detailed data analysis. Ultimately the system helps farmers to more easily access profitable markets. Meanwhile buyers, including local processors, have been able to plan and forecast their trading more accurately which enables in the long term reliable and trusted business relationships to farmers. The system has also enabled them to buy from smallholder producers who have previously been largely excluded from formal trading systems. In future, even consumers may benefit from the system and be able to learn the precise origin of their cashew or shea nuts simply by scanning a barcoded package at the retailer.

As of September 2013, the Virtual Cooperative software has been used in three countries, utilizing different language versions. By end of 2013 more than 20,000 producers will be registered in the system which will then support the trading of four different crops in West and East Africa. Coffee cooperatives in Uganda and cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire are set to be among those to test the technology.

Commercial future

Additional functions are currently under development, including supply of farm inputs and services, extended quality indicators for produce, pre-finance and electronic payments, and advanced geographical information tools to aid in crop selection. The system is designed to allow data sharing between producer groups and organisations higher up the value chain, including processors, exporters, certifiers and retailers.

SAP aims to develop a matured, market ready product which can be incorporated into commercial farm businesses that is also accessible and affordable to farmer groups at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

ACi in the international press

ACi in the international press

In September 2011 the African Cashew initiative (ACi) was visited by a group of 10 international correspondents and reporters of several well-respected international print and online media houses.

The trip resulted in various articles: ACi Download section - Media Coverage