OLAM Ghana Cashew Improving Livelihoods of Women in Cashew Households

OLAM Ghana Cashew Improving Livelihoods of Women in Cashew Households

OLAM Ghana Cashew, in partnership with GIZ under its EPIC project aimed at improving the livelihood of cashew farmers and their households, is providing technical and infrastructural support on beekeeping to women in cashew households in order to create sustainable jobs and generate an alternative source of income.

To this end, a total of about 400 female dependents of cashew farmers in the Bono, Bono East and Savanah Regions have been trained in beekeeping. The women trained also received two hives each, as well as harvesting and processing equipment. These beehives are placed in the cashew orchards which provides the benefit of inducing and increasing pollination, which in return increases yields of the cashew trees.

The move, which targets women, especially young women who depend on male cashew farmers, is to provide an alternative source of income to support their households and also help ease the responsibilities on the male cashew farmers. At least 500 beehives and other equipment made up of honey presses and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) were distributed to beneficiaries during the first phase of the project. An additional 1,100 shall be distributed in the second phase to increase the number of hives to 4 per beneficiary, to increase their production capacity. 

At the launch of the second phase of the project in Mesidan under the Techiman North District of the Bono East Region, Branch Manager of OLAM Ghana Cashew Mr. Yussif Amankwa called on the beneficiaries to work towards making the project a success as it is capable of alleviating poverty in the rural community. 

Programs Manager of Employment for Sustainable Development in Africa - GIZ, John Duti, indicated that the partnership which aims to improve the incomes of 25,000 farmers has been fruitful so far, with over 10,000 farmers covered already. 

“We are hearing some of them are making incomes of Ghc800 and we hope that with the additional hives that we are giving them, they will make more income and that would attract more youth into beekeeping”, Mr Duti added.

For participating farmer Adutwumwaa Comfort from Asueyi, this means a 15% increase in her income over the year. “I am sure I would be able to harvest about 40 lbs of honey from my apiary next year. Olam has provided me an opportunity to earn additional income during the cashew lean season so I can support my childrens’ education.”



Source: Anass Sabbit, via myjoyonline

Research is highly relevant in the cashew industry – CICC Executive Director

Research is highly relevant in the cashew industry – CICC Executive Director

Executive Director of the Consultative International Cashew Council (CICC), Andre Tandjekpon, has called on stakeholders of the cashew industry to consider research key to the future of the industry in Africa. According to him, research plays a crucial role in what will become of the cashew industry soon, explaining that prioritizing it will make the industry stronger.

Speaking on a panel discussion on the topic, Policies and their impact on cashew trade, at the 14th African Cashew Alliance (ACA) Annual Cashew Conference, Wednesday, he explained that an irrefutable reason behind the blooming cashew industry in India and Vietnam is the huge investment these countries made into research. He believed there is a need for deliberate efforts and major investments into research aimed at improving seed quality, increasing production as well as significantly increasing the rate of processing in Africa. “Research is highly relevant in cashew processing. India is what it is today because of in-depth research,” he said. According to him, the CICC is committed to encouraging research within the cashew industry in Africa and beyond and is collaborating with research institutions and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in that regard. The Consultative International Cashew Council is the inter-ministerial body of cashew producing and processing countries in charge of cashew in Africa. They liaise with governments in formulating policies to regulate the cashew industry both at national levels and the regional level.

The ACA Cashew conference is an annual conference that brings onboard experts and industry players across the world to learn, share experiences, and address major issues concerning production, processing, and consumption of cashew in Africa and beyond.
This year’s cashew conference, the 14th edition, was originally scheduled to be hosted physically in Ghana however due to the outbreak of COVID19, it is being held fully online. The virtual conference started on Wednesday the 9th of September 2020 with an opening ceremony and a panel discussion and ended on Friday the 11th of September 2020.

Credit: The African Cashew Alliance (ACA)

Cashew expect calls for India – Africa collaboration

Cashew expect calls for India – Africa collaboration

Cashew expert and President of Cashewinfo, Srivatsva Ganapathy, has called for a collaboration between Africa and India to increase the cashew processing fortunes of both parties. He said this on a panel discussion at the 14th annual African Cashew Alliance (ACA) cashew conference on the topic, the impact of policies on processing. According to him, Africa’s cashew industry has very great potentials whereas India has an already established processing sector and a collaboration between the two will be mutually beneficial. He explained that such a collaboration will increase the income of actors of Africa’s cashew industry, especially local processors while also increasing India’s processing rate.

In a quick response to the call, Executive Director of the Consultative International Cashew Council (CICC), Andre Tandjekpon, said the inter- ministerial body in charge of cashew in Africa was ever willing and ready to collaborate with India, and any other country, institution and Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO) interested in making the cashew industry viable. Many shared the view of imposing levies and taxes on exports of Raw Cashew Nuts from Africa to protect local processors from stiff competition from exporters. Though he shared this view, Mr Ganapathy, believed this should be done carefully, taking into consideration the interest of other actors of the industry, especially exporters and producers.
In this regard, he suggested taxes on exports of RCN could be in the form of fixed export taxes on the market, harmonised duties or declared duties in specific terms. He believed these forms of taxes would, while protecting local processors, not have huge impacts on exporters.

The ACA Cashew conference is an annual conference which brings onboard experts and industry players across the world to learn, share experiences, and address major issues concerning production, processing and consumption of cashew in Africa and beyond.
This year’s cashew conference, the 14th edition, was originally scheduled to be hosted by Ghana but had to be held fully online due to the outbreak of Covid 19. The virtual conference was held from Wednesday 9th September to Friday, 11th September 2020.

Credit: The African Cashew Alliance (ACA)

Views Corner: Claudio Scotto

Views Corner: Claudio Scotto

Claudio Scotto, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Gebana Burkina Faso Sarl shares with us his views on the impact of the COVID 19 on the cashew sector and some opportunities that exist. 

1. Briefly tell us about your organization

Gebana Burkina Faso has 10 years’ experience in processing organic Fairtrade cashew. We still have a totally manual production, with 450 employees for a capacity of 1,500 MT of RCN per year. The drying operation is entirely powered with cashew shells as fuel. We strive to create the best possible working environment by paying employees consistently more than the minimum wage; providing annual health screening; setting up a nursery and having a doctor on site. Furthermore, we are working to increase the positive economic impact on local farmers by distributing extra margin made in our business-to-consumer (B2C) operation after the end of harvest.

2. What were operations like before COVID-19 and how has COVID impacted them?

Covid arrived in Burkina in the first half of March of 2020, whilst the factory had stopped production for the usual maintenance work. As a result, we had the time to adjust production to the guidelines of the Ministry of Labour, mainly in relation to social distancing. We unfortunately needed to close the nursery for the children of the factory workers and transfer part of the shelling activity in its place; furthermore, we needed to rent a nearby additional room to spread the work of the peeling department. We started dividing the workforce in three groups and getting only two of them to work every day. Nevertheless, every employee was compensated in cash for the missing revenue. After four weeks output was increased to 84% and back to normal at the beginning of June. Based on our annual target, we’ve lost around 3% of total output. Other measures were also taken to tackle the spread of the virus: nurses taking temperature; compulsory hand wash at entry; provision of masks in every department; hand sanitizer available on every desk. The curfew established by the authorities reduced the working hours.

3. How has it been working with partners, suppliers, and employees in these times?

Not much challenges working with farmers, as the measures concerned mostly urban areas, although the movement restrictions made communication difficult. Some spare parts took much longer to arrive in the country and, worst, our new labelling machine arrived two months later than planned. Some employees had difficulty commuting to the factory, including the Production Manager. The CEO, on his return from Europe, was quarantined for 14 days in Bobo before going back to the office. Export of goods experienced some delay.

4. What were some initial challenges and how did you overcome them?

Employees were understandably nervous. We got external experts of the Ministry to come and explain also in Djoula (the local language) what the risks were and what precaution they needed to take. This avoided employees perception that the top management was putting turnover and profit ahead of workers wellbeing. The response was overwhelmingly positive, with workers taking the responsibility of not going to the factory in case of fever. The exceptions were only two.

5. How did you adjust your plans and strategies to meet the new situation?

Customers did understand the challenges and supported us. We got everyone to work hard and keep the losses to a minimum. The spirit of the workforce was overwhelmingly positive, also thanks to the responsible behaviour of the top management. Hence, no major strategy adjustment was needed.

6. What have been lessons you have learned from this season?

Being honest with employees and stakeholders works better than trying to deceive people for a short-term gain. People understood the situation and how exceptional the circumstances were. We noticed that instruction were followed with discipline and that sanitation was taken very seriously.

7. How do you see your business moving forward?

We need to move to a new production area before 2023 and this experience showed that enough space needs to be given to employees doing their job to avoid extra costs if a similar situation occurs again.

8. Anything else?

Discipline faded around June and July, when cases in Bobo came close to zero, but still the virus was present in the sub region and the country. There is no guarantee that the battle has been won yet.

Interviewed by Viviane Alima M’boutiki, Human Capacity Development & Gender Expert (ComCashew/GIZ)

Views Corner: Jace Rabe

Views Corner: Jace Rabe

Jace Rabe, the President of Tolaro Global SAS shares with us his views on the impact of the COVID 19 on the cashew sector and some opportunities that exist inspite of the pandemic.

1. Briefly tell us about your organization

Tolaro Global is a cashew processing facility that employs roughly 600 workers and has 7,000 cashew farmers in our network. We are in our 8th year of operations. We provide a one stop source for all our clients’ cashew needs from organic, Fairtrade and conventional kernels to roasted/salted cashews, cashew butter, and cashew flour. We currently have HACCP, BRC, Organic, and Fairtrade certifications.

2. What were operations like before COVID-19 and how has COVID impacted them?

First off, due to social distancing and restrictions guidelines set forth by the government, we are able to process at 50% capacity. In addition, as one of the top 20 largest employers in Benin, we felt it was our responsibility to lead by example. As such, we decided to close our doors for 1.5 months at the height of the pandemic in March/April.

3. How has it been working with partners, suppliers, and employees in these times?

Our employees have been fantastic, understanding, and flexible. The overall goal is to ensure the health and safety of our workers, their families and the villages and communities in which we live and work. Benin, while experienced with dealing in various tropical illnesses and viruses is simply not equipped with the necessary equipment (eg. ventilators) to combat COVID-19 . Knowing that the hospitals in the north of Benin could not handle the surge of cases, it requires the community to take precautions and safety very seriously. The global economy has taken a tremendous hit. Consumer confidence in the economy is at an all-time low. Consumers are avoiding restaurants to reduce the risk of exposure to the disease and generally, spending less due to the uncertainty of what the future holds. As such, business regardless of the industry has slowed and suffered. The cashew industry is no exception. At Tolaro, we depend on external financing for procurement of our Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) from February through May of each year. We typically finalize our financing plan at the end of a calendar year for the new season. This year was no exception. We finalized our financing needs, received approval for financing with our various banks. As COVID-19 hit starting in February, suddenly our lenders switched into a survival/protectionist mindset. As a result of the banking response to the pandemic, we had two long-term lending partners cancel/delay their financing. In total, we were unable to draw Euros 2.5 million that was pre-approved in January when we needed it most in March due to the protectionist fear that gripped so many agriculture lending based banks. Our customers who sell to retail stores have suffered greatly as Purchase Orders they had seemed to disappear. As such, they passed the problem down the line and cancelled or postponed existing orders with us. The cashew market has seen a downward trend in pricing over the last several months due to limited demand and uncertainty. On the same topic of customers, we have had several customers simply unable to pay for loads of cashews given defaults they were experiencing or dried up demand in their respective markets. This has had a big impact on cash flow. We are all links in a greater chain and when one suffers, the whole chain suffers.

4. What were some initial challenges and how did you overcome them?

Some challenges faced include:

  • Lack of RCN financing that was approved in January and suddenly not available in February and March to a total amount of approx. Euros 2.5 million
  • Falling kernel market
  • Limited demand
  • Delayed shipment requests
  • Inability for customers to pay for product/cancel existing Purchase Orders.

Ways by which we overcame these challenges:

  • We got creative and negotiated with farmers to take their RCN on credit and pay them once we convert and sell as kernels. Keep in mind this is “unheard” of in the cashew industry. This was mainly successful because of our reputation and the quality long-term relationships which we have forged with the over 7,000 farmers in our network.
  • COVID-19 has confirmed the strategy we have put in place for the last one and a half years as we pivoted our focus on cashews as an ingredient versus a commodity. The global cashew market is dominated by Vietnam, followed closely by India. COVID-19 is an exceptional situation, but the market will once again return to normal once the pandemic ends. While global demand for cashews soars, so do the injustices. Ninety-five percent (95% ) of the world´s cashews are supplied by countries that are not enforcing all standards. Child labor, forced labor and cruel working conditions are thus possible in the worlds cashew sector, but not in the young industry in Africa. We, at Tolaro Global pride ourselves on the ways we treat our workers, treat our farmers, develop our company, and generally help lift the entire communities in which we operate. We find it better to focus on value-added products than compete against other origins that do not share the same ideals and vision as we do. As such, we have recently launched lines that will produce organic and conventional cashew butter/paste, cashew flour, pasteurized raw cashews, roasted and seasoned cashews etc. This entire operation is housed under a BRC Grade A certified factory, a first of its kind in West Africa.

5. How did you adjust your plans and strategies to meet the new situation?

As mentioned previously, COVID- 19 confirmed and validated our outlook and planned strategy for the future of the cashew industry and Tolaro Global. Our focus will be on value-added cashew products, and premium certified organic and fairtrade cashews. While demand for cashews globally increases, the margins as a traditional processor decrease further. In order to survive in this industry, adaptation and continual course correction must be center components of your business model.

6. What have been lessons you have learned from this season?

  1. I have been working/involved in Africa for 17 years now. Business is hard. Business in Africa is even harder! The opportunities are immense but so too are the challenges. The biggest lessons I have learned in business in general and business in Africa are the following:
  2. If it can go wrong it will.
  3. If business were easy then everyone would do it
  4. Creating businesses and entrepreneurship is nothing more than solving huge problems overcoming insurmountable challenges and figuring out how to do it better, quicker, and more efficiently than everyone else. Once you come to terms with that, you sort of lose your right to complain.
  5. So the lessons learned in this season are not new lessons but lessons reinforced by the uncertainties that surround us at all times. COVID 19 is just the current hurdle and challenge the world must face and overcome. As the Persian adage says “This too shall pass”. COVID 19 will pass and the next challenge will present itself.

7. How do you see your business moving forward?

I am very bullish on our company. I think Tolaro has positioned itself in a very unique and strong way that is vastly different than all other processors not only in West Africa but globally. We have created an amazing team and I feel very confident in what we will be in the next five to ten years.

8. Anything else?

As President of Tolaro Global, naturally I am seen as the face of the organization. Unfortunately, being the face of the organization often times equals receiving undue credit and frankly, I continually receive more credit than I deserve. There is the strongly held belief that Africa cannot develop without foreign intervention and the African people are “less than” their European and American counterparts. There is the belief that they (Africans) need “saving” and who better than foreign nationals to rush in and “fix their problems”. I am sure there are many who would refute that claim and many who would tell me I am flat out wrong, short sighted etc. but it is a systemic belief that sabotages the continent as a whole. The cashew industry in Africa is no exception. This belief plays out in the structures of factories, in the management teams in place and the strategies used.
While I will continue to receive the undue recognition and accolades for the achievements and successes of Tolaro Global, I will continue to put the spotlight on my team. They are the champions of Tolaro Global. Without them, you would not be highlighting Tolaro Global. People like:

  1. My managing director, partner and brother Serge Kponou. His leadership has navigated us through the toughest of spots and worst of storms. I can tell you with 100% honesty, Tolaro would not be here with him today.
  2. Nafissatou GBINGUI SACAREGUI who continually amazes me with her work ethic and drive and her uncanny ability to lead and motivate our team
  3. Dorcas Kaho who runs our BRC certified roasting facility. You cannot be fooled by her gentle and unassuming demeanor. She drives for perfection in everything she does.
  4. ABOUDOU Adjarath- section leader in classification section. Incredible personality and drive for excellence.

Those are just a few examples. I could give so many more. So when you think about Tolaro Global, don’t think about me as an individual, think about the team. I am just so fortunate to carry the title that allows me to lead, develop, assist and persevere with an incredible group of people.

Interviewed by Mary Adzanyo, Director, Private Sector Development (ComCashew)

Building a strong cashew foundation with improved planting materials

Building a strong cashew foundation with improved planting materials

The Fédération Nationale des Producteurs d'Anacarde du Bénin (FENAPAB) together with the Institut National des Recherches Agricoles du Benin (INRAB) in Benin through the cashew Matching Fund has organised nursery operators into cooperatives from the grassroots to the national level. This way, nursery operators and grafters can access the resources to improve their activities. Farmers are also assured of high-quality grafted seedlings. So far, 69 nursery operators trained and monitored have produced over 1,000,000 rootstocks of which over 400,000 have been grafted and 30,000 polyclonal plants produced. 79 female grafters have also been trained in 16 communities of the project intervention zone to create jobs for women and to increase the quantity of production. 

Mr. AKAKPO Goudégnon, a member of the cooperative of nursery operators and a beneficiary of the Matching Fund project, shares with us the impact of the project: “We can now tell if someone is truly a nursery operator. With this cooperative that we have set up, we, nursery operators and grafters, now have the legal backing to prohibit anyone from intervening in any way as a nursery worker if they are not qualified to do so. Together with our Board of Directors, we will make available to members lists of trees and/or banks of elite tree grafts to produce quality plant material to be made available to cashew nut producers."

Read more: Building a strong cashew foundation with improved planting materials


CoVID-19 in Benin: Impact of the crisis on the cashew value chain

CoVID-19 in Benin: Impact of the crisis on the cashew value chain

Several strategic sectors of agricultural and organized value chains have been impacted by the corona virus pandemic. Cashew is the second largest export crop in Benin after cotton. It is a highly lucrative sector for the producers and various stakeholders and involves several middle players within the value chains. Each year, most of these middle players make significant profit from selling the crop. The sector provides annual income to many households and contributes immensely to food security as the income obtained from selling the nuts and other cashew byproducts help families to buy provisions and thus to meet their food needs. It should be noted that according to Tandjiekpon (2010), the cashew sector accounts for 7% of the country’s agricultural GDP and for 3% its national GDP.  For many years and despite successive crises, the dynamics within that sector has helped to generate income that have stabilized the trade balance. The sector contributes 24.87% of agricultural exports and 8% of the national export revenue (APIEX, 2017).

Given that only 5% of the national cashew production is processed locally, the sector was severely impacted by the effects of CoVID-19 due to the limitations imposed on exports, and the restricted movements of buyers towards production areas. It should however be noted that in view of uncertainties regarding the trading season resulting from the pandemic, producers chose to hold on to their nuts, hoping that the situation would gradually improve. The rollout of the cashew trading season is symptomatic of a known reality: based on the high price fluctuations in the cashew producing countries and the availability in importing countries, the situation could radically change for the better or the worse. And this confirms the historical instability of cashew nuts prices offered to producers. 

Considering the peculiarity of cashew (a perennial crop) as the trading season has ended, it is imperative to make a comparative analysis of the 2019 and 2020 seasons in the particular context of a health and economic crisis. In reality, stakeholders in the industry are currently concerned over the future of the value chain and speculations for the subsequent seasons as CoVID-19 has heightened uncertainties; this is an unprecedented crisis and no one can confidently say when it will be fully under control. Thus, it is necessary to prepare to face future uncertainties that could override economic analyses of the cashew sector or not.

Actually, this year, the trading season in Benin was launched on March 19, 2020 with a floor price of FCFA 325 per kilogram of raw cashew nuts. Due to the prevailing context of the corona virus pandemic, the season was very slow during the first weeks. Large buyers were hardly present and the market was mostly dominated by local collectors.

Based on this year’s campaign, prices were initially relatively low (between FCFA 200 and 250 at the beginning of the campaign) before plunging very low (between FCFA 100 and 200 by the end of March-early April 2020). As a result, many producers were no longer selling their nuts. This situation persisted for about four weeks and there was a great deal of uncertainty among all the stakeholders. However, unexpectedly, the big buyers started invading the market at the beginning of the fifth week (in April). The demand immediately shot up, competition set it, and the prices entered a phase of constant increase, reaching FCFA 400 in some districts. After a month of this sudden upturn, almost all the stocks of nuts were bought and conveyed to warehouses in Cotonou. Between March 19th 2020 – the official opening date of the market – and May 15th, that is eight weeks, producers’ stocks of nuts were virtually exhausted. The warehouses of traders and exporters actually kept the stocks up until now because of the closure of borders and of challenges in conveying the nuts due to the health crisis.

In view of the foregoing, we can say that trading between producers and buyers lasted eight weeks and went through two main phases of equal duration. A first four-week phase characterized by low sales and a drastic drop in prices, and a second four-week phase where the demand was very high and prices were steadily rising. However, we had to wait till the last week (in May 2020) to see the prices reach and exceed the FCFA 325 floor price. At the end of the campaign, the average national price was FCFA 265.

By way of comparison, in 2019, deals between producers and buyers were conducted over a period of eleven to thirteen weeks depending on the region, while this year, they were completed in eight weeks… Indeed in 2020, because of the unique context of the CoVID-19, we recorded prices lower than the floor price right from the official opening week until week 4. From week 5, the trend changes with a continuous upward movement of prices until week 8. And contrary to 2019, the prices reached and exceeded the FCFA 325 floor price at the end of trading. The comparative analysis of the prices and trends of the 2019 and 2020 trading seasons, sheds light on the notable differences between the two campaigns. Taking stock of the situation, the stakeholders are unanimous on the fact that this year was peculiar for the cashew sector both with regards to supplying factories, buying nuts for exports, and to the behavior of producers and buyers. Despite the efforts made by the various technical and financial partners to improve the business environment and access to financing in the industry, it is clear that a greater availability of funds could have enabled processing units to obtain larger supplies. It has been observed that these units stored the nuts based on their capacity and financial availability. Especially when the prices of kernels drop on the market, processors are reluctant to follow prices trends (to buy at higher prices) of raw cashew nuts just for cost-efficiency sake. This situation highlights the poor resilience of stakeholders in the industry when faced with exogenous shocks (such as the corona virus crisis and the workings of the world market) and sometimes endogenous shocks (behavior of buyers). Let us hope that the lessons learned will help all stakeholders to prepare better to face future challenges of the cashew value chain despite the uncertainties.

Author: José Herbert Ahodode, Socio-economist Agronomist, Master Trainer, Private Service Provider to processing units.

USIBRAS Organic Farmer Linkage Program

USIBRAS Organic Farmer Linkage Program

Since beginning operations in Ghana, USIBRAS noticed that the level of collaboration between farmers and local processors was quite low. Moreover, farmers were not getting the utmost value for their produce. In 2019, USIBRAS instituted its organic farmer linkage program, aimed at ensuring sustainable supply linkage with cashew farmers, increased value addition and fair pricing, especially for beneficiary farmers. Farmers will also undergo certification process for organic RCN, thereby ensuring that farmers earn an additional premium on their produce.

Implications of COVID-19 on the program

Even though the discussion for this program started in 2019, the first training sessions were held in February and looked to be heading towards the direction for which it was developed. However, COVID-19 had its toll on the program. The ban on movements made it difficult to meet and interact with these farmers. Also, due to the need to adhere to social distancing protocols, the program had to be put on hold to ensure the safety of all parties involved.

Notwithstanding the difficulties brought forth by COVID-19, the first half of the year presented an opportunity for the stakeholders to put together a database of beneficiary farmers and to prepare towards full implementation post-pandemic. It will therefore be right to consider the year as a preparatory one for the program. It is also fair to say the pandemic emphasized the importance of having such a program to bridge the gap between the farmers and the processors. During the early part of the pandemic, there were reports of Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) shortages in the system. However, due to this program, USIBRAS was able to work together with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, MoFA to source RCN directly from farmers.

USIBRAS is very optimistic about this program and believe a lot more need to be done to ensure sustainable farmer-processor linkages.

The USIBRAS farmer linkage program is supported by  GIZ, managing the Matching Fund for ComCashew with funding from Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and providing technical advice;  the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), responsible for the trainings and mapping out of farms and FairMatch Support, responsible for the certification, database and registration process for farmers.


USIBRAS is a cashew processing company that has been in business for over 40 years and has 2 units currently operating in Brazil. In 2015, the company set up a unit and started operations in Ghana and has since then grown from strength to strength. USIBRAS has surmounted many challenges to become one of the biggest and most successful processing companies in Ghana. For five years USIBRAS has made extensive investments into the Ghanaian cashew sector; building the capacities of its workers and importing state of the art equipment to enhance its operations, while working hand in hand with other stakeholders towards the development of the sector. Today, the company is beginning to see improvements and are optimistic about the future of the cashew sector in Ghana.

Author: Patricio Assis, CEO, Usibras Ghana Ltd. 

She Trade West Africa partners with ComCashew to strengthen capacity of cashew farmers in Sierra Leone.

She Trade West Africa partners with ComCashew to strengthen capacity of cashew farmers in Sierra Leone.

The Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew) in collaboration with the She Trade West Africa Project organized a four-day training of trainers (TOT) for lead farmers (65% of whom are women), from the 13th to 16th July 2020. The training which focused generally on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPS) and specifically on intercropping cassava on new cashew plantations targeted eight cashew growing communities within Bombali district, Northern Sierra Leone. The objectives of the training were to address technical needs of female farmers on GAP and on intercropping of cassava in new cashew plantations, to support livelihood promotion and food security through the supply of planting material (cassava cuttings) and to build the capacity of key cashew lead farmers through a TOT programme for community knowledge transfer and retention. 30 Community facilitators and 800 farmers, mostly women were selected as beneficiaries in different communities within Bombali district.

During the classroom sessions, farmers were very excited to learn about the diverse uses of cashew especially for medicinal purposes the different types of crops that can be intercropped with cashew and the methods of intercropping. They acknowledged the benefits and challenges of intercropping from the perspective of the training as well as their individual experiences.

Regarding poor farm maintenance, most of the women expressed concerns about the extent of fire damage caused in cashew fields as a result of slash and burn activities for upland rice fields, groundnut cultivation and smokers using the cashew fields as a route. According to report from COOPI field staff, in 2019, about 15 hectare were burnt, according to report from field staff. The farmers admitted that given the lack of resources and high labour  requirement for constructing fire belts, they have not been keen on putting this preventive measure in place. In order to prevent further field destructions, they were encouraged to build fire belts with reasonable distance of about 7 to 10 Meters from the farm and construct mounds or ridges for the cultivation of cassava or other selected crops identified during the training sessions.

The training also helped beneficiaries to learn about the hazardous effect of agrochemicals on humans, the high cost of the chemicals, its availability in the market and its effect on certification of the final cashew product. In this regard, traditional and biological methods of pest and disease control such as hand picking of pests, use of neem trees, introduction of red ants, proper cleaning, and maintenance of farms, were encouraged as the most suitable alternative.

Initially, women were more focused on the being employed in the processing sector of the cashew value chain, but they are now equally motivated for producing cashew on their farms. The intervention of SheTrades West Africa and its support to cashew farmers seems quite timely given the current global pandemic and its impact on income and livelihoods.

 Participants Participants 

Figure 1. Cross section of participants in the training hall

Participants Participants Participants

Figure 2. Practical training on land preparation, construction of ridges and mounds by women in preparation for planting of cassava cuttings.

Participants Participants Participants                          

Figure 3. Facilitator explaing to participants length of cutting to plant, spacing, method, depth of cutting  inserted into the soil etc.

Interview with SNI: Wim Schipper and Simone Hertzberger

Interview with SNI: Wim Schipper and Simone Hertzberger

As of June 1 2020, Simone Hertzberger took over as chairperson of the Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI). GIZ/ComCashew interviewed former chairperson Wim Schipper, as well as his successor Simone Hertzberger, for a look into the past and future.

 Interview with Wim Schipper, former Chairperson, SNI

Tell us about your time as SNI chairperson. What were the highs and lows?

For me as chair, one of the highs was definitively experiencing, year-on-year, the commitment of participants to work in the area of sustainability. Participants come from different backgrounds and have different company DNA and interests. Working together is therefore not a given. With a shared vision, the team worked together in a great way. That was always very important, but especially to address positively and constructively, one of the lows which was the high financial burden that we experienced some years ago. Another high was to notice the increased interest in SNI that we are experiencing now and the number of organizations who want to team up.

ComCashew supports SNI through the Matching Fund – how did you find the collaboration? 

The cooperation with ComCashew has been key to have direct access to cashew growing areas. We always say that the cashew value chain is disconnected, as there are smallholders farmers at the start of the chain and many layers of collectors, aggregators and traders in between them and the processing units. Traditionally, these middle-men do not disclose their sources and that can hinder the improvement of farmer livelihoods. Being based on the ground, ComCashew arranges visibility on the flow of goods and has programs in place on the ground that will bring the cashew value chain to the next level.   

As former Chairperson, how would you describe the growth of SNI over the last 5 years?

The Sustainable Nut Initiative changed over the past 5 years in many ways. SNI was founded to use the 3S traceability system, which was commissioned by the IDH Cashew Value Stream group in which the founding partners of SNI worked together. 3S is an advanced and costly system, so to bring budget balance we had to make the necessary changes on how that is financed. The last 2 years, we could therefore focus on strategy development, annual plans, organizational governances, talks with potential participants, communication plans etc., so building the house instead of financial firefighting.

What vision were you most excited to bring to fruition?

I was most excited to work according to the vision that the whole group will benefit from if the situation of the various stakeholders in the chain improves. So, in practice, if cashews bring returns to the growers, via fair pricing and year-on-year increasing yields, we will create a healthy and future proof industry. Same for working conditions in the processing industry: the work needs to be attractive otherwise the workers will move on to other jobs.

Interview with Simone Hertzberger, Chairperson, SNI 

Congratulations on your new role as Chairperson of SNI. What is your vision for the coming years?

 Thank you!

I am excited to work together with the participants of SNI in the next few years on bringing the nut sector to a higher level in terms of sustainability.

 Currently, we are determining which areas of sustainability we will be focusing on and determine where we will make our efforts. This does not mean that we do not take steps in other areas. However, I think it is important to focus on actually taking measurable steps and communicate about this.

How has SNI been impacted (partners, clients, members) in the wake of COVID-19?

Regarding the retail side, the impact of COVID-19 is not that big of a problem. People couldn't go to restaurants for a couple of months, but the effect was an increase in spending on food retail. People do need to eat.

 The effect of COVID-19 in production countries is much greater. Harvesting and processing have been difficult and some borders were closed.

 In your latest newsletter, there was mention of an annual market report. Could you tell us more about it?

 The annual cashew monitoring report was created to communicate about the cashew sector and inform stakeholders about the steps taken by frontrunners to improve sustainability in the cashew market. Similar annual reports exist for coffee, cacao and soy. We must communicate which steps we have taken with which results as participants of SNI, to show that we’re working towards more sustainable supply chains. With communicating results, we try to motivate participants and prospective participants to improve sustainably in the nut sector by taking steps together with other SNI partners.

How does SNI envisage a more inclusive and transparent cashew value chain over the next few years?

The Sustainable Nut Initiative is for all actors in the nut supply chain. We want to facilitate them with tools to work towards a more sustainable nut sector. We see transparency and traceability as a crucial first step towards further sustainability in the nut sector.

 To work towards transparency and traceability it’s important to build relationships between producers, processors and other partners in the supply chain. This way you know better where the product is coming from and then you can work on improvements in terms of sustainability. This is only possible if food retailers as well make supplier choices based on steps that are taken or will be taken. Food retail plays an important role in making the supply chain more traceable and transparent. If it remains bulk and anonymous, one cannot take steps.


Interview by: Nana Yaa Agyepong - GIZ/ComCashew & Karin Egberink - SNI

Views Corner: Matthew Porter

Views Corner: Matthew Porter

Matthew Porter, the General Manager of the Mim Cashew & Agricultural Products Limited shares with us his views on the impact of the COVID 19 on the cashew sector and some opportunities that exist inspite of the pandemic. 

1. Briefly tell us about your organization

Mim Cashew & Agricultural Products Limited located at Mim in the Ahafo region of Ghana was established in 2008. The company processes organic cashew nuts harvested from their organic cashew farm in Mim. At present, the factory has the capacity to process up to 750 Metric tons of raw cashew nuts per year and employs about 220 people. Cashew kernels processed by the company are exported to Europe and the USA.

2. What were operations like before COVID-19 and how has COVID impacted them?

There was no shift system in place before covid-19 but to adhere to social distancing, two shifts systems have been introduced to meet the processing capacity. This however has led to an extra cost. Prior to covid-19, seventy-two (72) people were transported to the factory in a bus. This number has been reduced to twenty-five (25) people increasing the number of trips made in a day.

3. How has it been working with partners, suppliers, and employees in these times?

Partners: There have not been any challenges working with partners besides drops in sales prices

Suppliers: There have been some challenges with supply chain in terms of delays. Moreover, prices of supplies have gone up due to the pandemic.

Employees: Some changes had to be made with regards to the working arrangements of employees.

4. What were some initial challenges?

The initial challenge was training employees about Covid-19 protocols and ensuring their compliance to the protocols.

5. How did you adjust your plans and strategies to meet the new situation?

Some systems had to be put in place in order to adjust to the new situation, some being the introduction of the shift system to tackle social distancing, remote working and meetings with some strategic workers such as the administration staff. Moreover, a full-time nurse is being employed to make sure any employees which are unwell are treated accordingly and to address concerns over misdiagnosis of other diseases such as malaria.

6. What have been lessons you have learned from this season?

This season has helped the company to access its proactiveness. For instance, the company started working on the implementation of Covid-19 protocols and even purchased some n95 face mask before the announcement of the first two cases in Ghana.

7. How do you see your business moving forward?

The negative effects from the pandemic is likely to linger on for a long time which present some challenges to the company. For instance, the world prices of kernels have decreased thus affecting our company’s revenues, coupled with increased expenses. Through it all we are very determined to do our best.

ALDI SOUTH Group first discount retailer to join the Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI)

ALDI SOUTH Group first discount retailer to join the Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI)

We’re happy to announce that the ALDI SOUTH Group has become a participant of the Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI). The ALDI South Group is the first discount retailer to join the initiative. A great step forward to resilient and transparent supply chains that create benefits for all actors in the chain.

Simone Hertzberger, chair of SNI: “To bring the nut sector to a higher level in terms of sustainability, all links of the supply chain must be on board. Retail is an important actor to take effective steps towards improvements in the production chain with regard to sustainability factors. Because of the direct link with the consumer, retail has the opportunity to ask questions to and set requirements for their suppliers and stimulate the improvement through purchasing according to the jointly set sustainability standards. The participation and motivation of the ALDI SOUTH Group to exert that influence, is a great opportunity for SNI to take another step in making nut supply chains more sustainable”.

ALDI SOUTH Group: “As a multinational retailer, we are aware that our actions and those of our business partners can have potentially
adverse social and environmental impact throughout our supply chain. By working together within the Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI), we believe that we can make a positive impact on the challenges that nut supply chains are facing. To realise our commitments, we especially see transparency and traceability as the decisive foundation for more sustainable sourcing of nuts. Due to these shared objectives, we believe that SNI is the ideal platform to establish this groundwork and to drive progress in the whole sector towards better agricultural practises, improved social standards, and ultimately more sustainable products. Working with retailers, manufacturers and growers alike, we want to strengthen relationships in complex supply chains, develop scalable approaches for improving local working conditions, sharing best practices and shape future industry standards.”

About ALDI SOUTH Group
The ALDI SOUTH Group (“ALDI”) is a global food retail company and operates in eleven countries on four continents and employs around 157,000 members of staff. ALDI offers between 1,470 and 1,940 core range products and a changing selection of special buys every week in more than 6,500 stores worldwide. Simplicity, consistency, and responsibility are the core values of the ALDI SOUTH Group. ALDI is committed to fostering fair working conditions and environmentally friendly production in the cultivation and processing of nuts. ALDI’s range of nut products includes snacking nuts, nut ingredients and nut spreads.

About SNI
The Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI) is a pre-competitive, cooperative platform for the nut sector. SNI brings all actors of the international nut supply chain together. The nut sector is characterized by complex supply chains with continuous changing market dynamics and limited transparency. Participants of SNI are collaborating to drive positive change towards sustainable production and transparency across the entire chain. A common agenda has been developed, addressing current and future sustainability issues at sector level, taking into account the specificities and sustainability challenges of the different nut categories. SNI develops strategies and tools to address industry bottlenecks, share and act on lessons learned, bundle resources and scale up impact.

For questions and / or additional information, kindly contact:

Karin Egberink, Communications Officer
Secretariat SNI

The impact of COVID 19 and the opportunities it presents for increased local processing

The impact of COVID 19 and the opportunities it presents for increased local processing

I asked a cashew buyer recently, “During the pandemic what would be your ideal supply chain situation?” She told me that the supply chain should be short, fast (transit), food safe, traceable, responsive, flexible, and reliable.  She does not recognise many of these factors in the cashew chain with its complex 30,000 km journey from small farmers in Africa to Vietnam and back to the East Coast of the USA where she is based. Nor do I, but it does not have to be that way.

Many people thought that the pandemic would destroy demand for cashew kernels. The argument was that people would not have money for cashews. Consumers would concentrate on basic foods. Perhaps this argument suited some players in the market that may have been looking for lower prices for Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) or kernels to cover speculative positions. They got their wish for lower prices but they could not have been more wrong about demand. Demand for cashew kernels in 2020 is at record levels. And no, it was not just hoarding or panic buying. Shipments have continued very strong right up to now. This continues the trends of the second half of 2019 and builds on growth that saw consumption quadruple in the past 20 years. Demand for edible nuts is undergoing a period of strong growth and cashews are being carried along with it. It is driven by consumer interest in healthy foods, less meat, more vegetable protein, more plant based, convenience and sustainability. It is not going to change any time soon. We do not need it to. If demand grows in the next ten years at the same rate as in the past ten years, there will not be enough cashew nuts to meet the needs of consumers worldwide.

If not demand, then how has the pandemic impacted the cashew market? It has resulted in significant disruption to supply. In India , a country badly affected by the pandemic, many farmers have not been able to sell their cashew nuts, as traders and processors could not access them during the lockdowns. This means that the Indian crop is still available for buyers in some areas. It also means that it will likely be smaller than expected. In West Africa, the leading production region of the World, supply has been disrupted as movement restrictions, travel bans, shipping disruptions and interrupted financial mechanisms have delayed people travelling to buy or inspect and have slowed product moving to processors or ports. At the end of May, imports of RCN from CÔte d’Ivoire to Vietnam were down by 60% on 2019, Nigeria was down 46% and Ghana by 51%. This caused product to build up in the origins, prices to fall and quality to decline. The disruption highlighted the weakness in the long, slow, untraceable, unreliable supply chain that brings RCN to processors in Asia.

There were always likely to be challenges in moving product from the farm due to the pandemic but add in the slow flow of the cash needed to finance buying and some opportunistic trading tactics and the problems were magnified. In 2020, supply of cashews in some countries could be down by 20% due to the pandemic. That means reduced incomes for farmers, collectors, and service providers all along the chain. At times during the 2020 pandemic disrupted season the only buyers in the market were local processors often dealing with local buyers and collectors as well as farmers. This demonstrated that processors could have a positive impact by their all year round market presence – crisis or no crisis. Recent analysis has shown that processors tend to pay farmers better prices, reward quality and become involved in the development of the farmer. In many ways farmers and processors have the shared interest of making the sector a success in a way that migrant international RCN traders do not.

The pandemic and especially the necessity for social distancing have made life difficult for processors too. In African countries, processors that have met the challenge have been rewarded with more orders and better prices. It has not been easy but some processors have shown that African cashew factories can do the job in difficult circumstances as well as competitors anywhere. The features of successful factories have been: committed and professional management, good business planning  especially in relation to securing the funding needed to buy RCN, positive and transparent relationships with staff (as good relationships built trust in the systems implemented to address the outbreak), strong links to suppliers and a relational approach to marketing. There have been some disappointing examples where for example whole factories were closed due to an owner’s anxiety about contracting COVID19 or factories that chose to resell their RCN supply rather than reorganise their facilities. Businesses that see cashews as a value-added food ingredient are more likely to operate successfully in a crisis than businesses that operate as old-fashioned commodity traders or where processing is simply a “front” for RCN trading. This has never been better demonstrated than during the pandemic. It has been encouraging to see some West African processors obtain premium prices over competitors in Asia and to see some buyers recognise the value of a 14-day transit to Western Europe.  Although for most people the pandemic has again exposed the weaknesses in the supply chain for some it has pointed out that they have competitive advantages.

It is trite to say that every crisis offers an opportunity or that every cloud has a silver lining, as they usually do not. But this pandemic has given some processors the chance to prove a point and those that have done so look positively to the future. Others may learn and follow.       

Returning to the American buyer that wished for a supply chain that is “short, fast (transit), food safe, traceable, responsive, flexible, and reliable”. Processing of cashew nuts in African countries offers a shorter, faster (18 days to New York, 14 days to Netherlands) and traceable supply chain. Food safety, flexibility and reliability are in the hands of the individual processor, but none involve much by way of extra capital expenditure now that semi mechanised processing is the norm. They need smart management, relevant staff training, good communication (internal and external) and good market information. If this can be done by a few in a crisis, why can it not be done by many once the crisis has passed?

From a kernels buyer point of view the pandemic may lead to some changes in behaviour and probably will lead to some already existing trends becoming even more important. There are likely to be fewer players and fewer outlets. If buyers want to avoid keeping large inventories, they will need shorter supply chains. It cannot have escaped kernels buyers notice that if Vietnam had been badly hit by the virus their 80% dependence on that country for supply would have been exposed as an unacceptable risk. Policy makers in Africa too might reflect on how cashew farmers would have fared if Vietnamese cashew processors had been closed in 2020.       

Uncertainty is likely to lead to a lower risk strategy making direct buying, links to the supply chain, and certification more important. There will be less travel to visit suppliers meaning that good communication and certification will increase in importance. Compliance with food laws related to food safety will become even more important than it already is. Traceability in everyday life will become normal. There is likely to be a surge in social and environmental requirements driven by consumer trends. Buyers will become more concerned with the whole supply chain rather than just transactional business relations. Demand will grow. It will become more complex, more focussed, more responsible. Organic food may boom. The story behind the business or the brand will become the driver of success.

For the sector to meet and benefit from these trends processing in the producing country is essential. Even if efficient processors in Asia were able to comply with the trends, the cost would significantly reduce the prices paid to farmers in Africa impacting incomes, production and foregoing the benefits to the environment of tree crops. Processing is Africa is rapidly changing from an option to a necessity. 

Vision 2030: Moving ahead with lessons from 2020

Vision 2030: Moving ahead with lessons from 2020

It is not easy to have a vision when we are living in the fog of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic. It is tempting to see everything in the light of the current events, to forget that this will pass sooner or later.  Fifteen years ago, the cashew sector in Africa was in crisis. Production had increased quickly in response to demand during the 1990’s but by 2005 production had exceeded demand. Prices collapsed from 2002 to 2005. Vietnam was not an importer of Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) – hard to imagine now. Prices at the farm gate dropped occasionally to US$100/t and rarely passed US$200/t. There were virtually no processing plants in West Africa. The crop was almost never sold out in a season. Cashews were still controlled from Kerala and Singapore. Much has changed. Much has not.

At that time governments recognised that some regulation of the sector was desirable in order to protect farmers. They acted in Tanzania and Mozambique. Later, West African governments reacted with a range of measures: some effective, some not. Development agencies focussed on cashews. The African Cashew initiative (ACi), later to become the Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew), was born. So was the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) and a range of programmes funded by international aid programmes. Ten years later on-farm yield among supported farmers had doubled. At the same time demand started to grow quickly, in India and in Europe. World consumption quadrupled. Cashews changed from a luxury snack to the favourite nut for new and imaginative applications. Prices at the farm gate in African countries had trebled by 2016. Developments in processing technology had made access to fast effective peeling and shelling machines possible. Cashew factories on average became larger. Vietnam started to import and the RCN trade boomed. India turned inward, ceded its export market to Vietnam, and focusses now on its 1.4 billion domestic consumers.

How does the vision of a cashew sector where most nuts are processed at origin, where stakeholders are organised and fairly rewarded, where by-products are processed for reward and environmental risk mitigation measure up in the shadow of a pandemic?  It would have been difficult to imagine many of the changes that we have seen in the past twenty years. It is difficult enough to forecast from one year to the next. It may be helpful though to focus on what the current crisis may be telling us about the future. Crises tend to magnify weaknesses in economies, in health care systems or in businesses. They can also bring out the best in people. What can we learn from this crisis about the future of the cashew sector? 

Firstly, experts tell us that we are only at the beginning of the crisis. To deal with it we should understand that it can change the future as well as the present. Vaccine or not the implications will echo for many years. Therefore, it seems important that we learn the lessons of the crisis well, especially the slower evacuation of raw material to processing plants and ports. The need for good post-harvest practices, local drying, warehousing facilities, and financing mechanisms to pay for them is made greater by a harvest in a crisis. It also underlines the need for good market information and analysis. As we have seen, countries that were well informed and listened to the scientific advice have done better than those that did not. It is not by accident that some African countries have done relatively well in the crisis. Understanding the fragility of life and experienced from past threats of dangerous diseases like Ebola, they acted earlier and faster than some richer nations.       

The crisis has yet again demonstrated the robustness of demand for cashew kernels. Early predictions of a collapse in demand could not have been more wrong. Later explanations that it was just panic buying have also turned out to be wrong. Demand for cashew nuts has remained strong during two major crises in the past twenty years. Our vision for the future should centre on how that demand can be met and how price volatility, created by opportunism in times of tightly balanced markets, can be avoided. 

Some of us have pointed out the fragility of the cashew supply chain for years. The shipment of up to 2 million tonnes as RCN every year is not efficient and is not in line with market trends. By 2030 that figure could double if processing does not develop in West Africa. How would that fit with a vision of a short, efficient supply chain? In May 2020, the United States imported 93% of its cashew nut kernels from a single origin, Vietnam. In 2019, Vietnam imported approximately 84% of its raw cashew nuts for processing. The journey of some 28,000 km from Africa via Vietnam to the consumers in North America and Europe is too long, too risky, environmentally damaging, and unsustainable. The trade in “borma” kernels is a lost opportunity to build a brand. The pandemic of 2020 has demonstrated another aspect. The late arrival of buyers meant that prices fell, quality fell and incomes fell in West African cashew countries. This chain of high interdependence is an anachronism that creates unnecessary risk and encourages speculation. A sector vision built with these as foundations would only offer the prospects of perpetual crisis and enduring volatility.

One only has to visualise the debacle in the sector if Vietnamese cashew factories had closed due to the pandemic. Vietnam has reported less than 200 cases and no deaths, a remarkable feat. What if Vietnam had been as badly affected as the USA for example? What if cashew factories were closed? Worldwide there would be 80% fewer cashew kernels available for export and the demand for RCN would be lower by about 70%. What would the value of cashew nuts in Korhogo or Wenchi or Bissau have been then? Fortunately, it did not happen. Can there be a chance that it might in the future be part of our vision for 2030?

Processors have had a difficult time this year without exception. In India stop/start lockdown, labour reduction regulations and a fall in demand for broken kernels reduced capacity and impacted profit margins and cash flow. In Vietnam large well-managed factories have managed to keep processing to record levels demonstrating the efficiency and resilience of the Vietnamese processors. In African countries some determined processors have kept operations going in extremely demanding circumstances. In the main they have been rewarded with more demand and better prices. We salute these processors. They are the vison of the future of African processing. What is it that makes them different? Good management, a long-term vision and concentration on processing as opposed to switching between processing and RCN export trading. Much of the negativity around processing in African countries is built on the preconception that African processors cannot operate successfully. In the pandemic, the operating factories help us envision that they can and they will.    

This is a difficult period for legislators and regulators. Some governments have decided to take a  “light” approach. Others have taken strong measures to try to ensure that the sector functions during the crisis. Governments decide for themselves. However, the recent events have shown that regulation based on the realities of the marketplace is more effective than a poorly informed policy. They have shown us the importance of accurate, timely information. Our vision for 2030 might be that governments would not have to intervene. That the sector would reward stakeholders appropriately, capture value and promote sustainability. The crisis offers examples but does not change our minds on this.  

News media like to use the phrase “the new reality” when discussing the pandemic. Apparently, we should adjust to it, live with it, embrace it, maybe invite it into our homes and serve it snacks (cashews obviously).  I do not believe in a “new reality”. I just believe in reality. The reality for the cashew sector is that the pandemic has exposed our weaknesses, demonstrated the strength of demand, shown the resilience of some and the opportunism of others. The vision has not changed. The urgency and need to realise it have.         

Author: James Fitzpatrick - The Cashew Club

Collaboration despite a pandemic: MOFA’s Support to Sierra Leone and Vietnamese Actors

Collaboration despite a pandemic: MOFA’s Support to Sierra Leone and Vietnamese Actors

Cashew is heterozygote in nature and therefore makes the crop highly complex and genetically unstable especially when cashew seeds are used in the establishment of plantations. Ghana started cashew research activities in 2002 with one of the objectives to develop high yielding clones which are stable and suitable to be planted in all the production zones.

Through the research activities, Ghana has come up with 40 cashew accessions which were found to have good traits. From these 40 accessions, scion banks and polyclonal farms were established from the ten (10) topmost high performing ones. From 2012 to date, further research is being carried out to identify accessions with higher yield (15-30kg/tree/year). In addition, cashew hybrids are also being developed by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG). Ghana is therefore ranked as number one in terms of cashew research in West Africa. The Directorate of Crop Services (DCS) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been collaborating with CRIG over the years on the establishment of scion gardens and poly-clonal farms.

The Directorate, based on a request from Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew), has been supporting other African countries including Sierra Leone with cashew planting materials for the past five (5) years. This is because the Ministry believes that it is in the interest of Africa as a whole to develop the cashew sub-sector together.

Sierra Leone, a relatively new cashew producing country, aims to increase the volume of cashew produced in the country up to 30,000 MT by 2030. In 2020, Sierra Leone requested for 7,000 kg of cashew polyclonal seeds from Ghana through GIZ/ComCashew and Solidaridad West Africa. In order to support Sierra Leone to achieve its goal and to respond to the request from the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the polyclonal seeds were delivered during the covid-19 pandemic.

In the face of the covid-19 pandemic, the Directorate of Crop Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture engaged a haulage company based in Accra to transport the seeds from Accra to Freetown by road. The Ministry collaborated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to transport the seeds from Accra, Ghana to Freetown in Sierra Leone without any challenges.

Also, during the lockdown period in Ghana due to covid-19 pandemic, six (6) Vietnamese cashew Quality Analysts who got locked up in Ghana due to the border closure were supported to travel to Abidjan. The Quality Analysts who had signed an agreement with cashew value chain actors in Côte d’Ivoire, were unable to get out of Ghana because of the border closure directive by the President of Ghana. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture in close collaboration with the Ivorian Cotton and Cashew Council (CCA) engaged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and facilitated the issuance of travel permit for them. This enabled them to cross the border to continue their work.

MoFA believes that in collaborating and working with other stakeholders in the sub region, we can jointly build a sustainable and competitive African cashew sector.

Author: Jerry J. Anim, Senior Agricultural Officer

Directorate of Crop Services, Ministry Of Food And Agriculture

Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) 17th Open Call for Proposals

Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) 17th Open Call for Proposals

The Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) provides a range of financial and technical instruments to support projects proposed by enterprises, cooperatives and institutions along the entire commodity value chain in its member countries. These activities cover all segments of the value chain (including production, processing, financing, marketing etc.). This includes services and support functions, that help all participants in the process of value generation to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of its poorest participants at the bottom of the pyramid.
The support is offered mainly through loans to finance equipment, working capital or trade finance needs. The CFC seeks applications of projects that have reached a state of economic, social and environmental sustainability. These applications should clearly show operational and financial viability, with a proven track record. Women entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply.
Project proposals incorporating innovative solutions for the commodity sector (e.g. new agritech applications, increase availability of renewable and affordable energy, expanding environmental services) are especially expected to be submitted.

COVID-19 UPDATE AND OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS                                                                                                                                                        The CFC is sentient to the particular vulnerabilities of the smallholders of the agricultural value chains in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. Problems facing vulnerable people in commodity value remain the focus of the CFC and the CFC is concerned that the economic livelihoods of smallholders are likely to be affected by the pandemic in multiple ways.
To ensure best level of support to its target groups, the CFC project cycle is running without interruption, and all proposals are considered on schedule as indicated in the Call. The CFC is developing additional instruments of support to ensure that qualifying SMEs can maintain their operations despite the disruption caused by the pandemic.

All interested parties are kindly invited to submit qualifying proposals no later than 15 OCTOBER 2020For full details and more information, please click here.


AfriCashewSplits (Week 29: July 13 – 19, 2020 -N°14) - The source of the latest crop and price information

AfriCashewSplits (Week 29: July 13 – 19, 2020 -N°14) - The source of the latest crop and price information

The cashew kernels market seems to be developing some positive sentiment. There has been some buying of kernels in Asian markets by European and US buyers. In India, the domestic market is more active now than in previous months ahead of the festival season that will define Indian consumption, and possibly the fate of the market for 2020. Prices for WW320 have moved up as a result. This may be the first shoots of recovery in kernels prices. Cashew prices still represent good value and opportunity for profit for roasters and retailers. Lower prices have not been passed to consumers in developed economies. When they are, demand may spike again even from current high levels. The strength of demand has its roots long before the pandemic. Demand has been moving positively for many years, but the second half of 2020 saw a surge in demand in the EU, USA, and China. This is largely driven by healthy eating, reduced meat, convenience, and snacking. Look out for these again in 2021.

The RCN trade has been in a standoff. Vietnamese buyers need material as their stocks are being used as kernels exports reach record levels. The key origins are now Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau. Both countries have slower than usual shipments and substantial stocks of RCN in the country and even on the farms. Port stocks are in strong hands and under negotiation with buyers. In both countries, exporters are looking for better prices to make sales. There have been some deals struck in Cote d’Ivoire. The Ivorian Government has put in place further market support mechanisms. Whilst buyers and processors negotiate farmers wait for new sales or payment for existing sales and the RCN declines in quality. The fundamental problems of the RCN supply chain have become very clear in the pandemic.

Early August is usually a quiet trading period. It may be so for kernels this year again, but we would not be at all surprised to see some momentum build on cashew kernels for more activity after 17th August. RCN trading will most likely continue to be slow. Landed stocks in the processing destinations are high priced compared to kernels discouraging processors from buying and traders from landing more stock. In Hollywood they would say “Somethings gotta give”. Right now, it looks as if it could be higher kernels prices....

Get the full document here!

Staff Profile- Vanessa Langer

Staff Profile- Vanessa Langer

Vanessa Langer, who until recently was finance manager based in Germany shares with us her experience working with ComCashew/GIZ as she moves on to a new role within the larger GIZ organization.

My name is Vanessa Langer and I had been part of the ComCashew team for almost five years. After my dual study program in International Business I joined the project as a finance manager in October 2015. It then followed an exciting and educational time since it was my first job and
Vanessa Langerthe first time for me working in an international team across several locations. This made my work on the one hand quite challenging but on the other also very manifold and enriching.

For me, the special thing about ComCashew was that I felt a part of it from the first day on and that even in difficult situations I could count on the support of the team. Apart from that, what else will I miss? The team spirit, the good cooperation and dynamic developments as well as the healthy portion of fun and humor which characterized my daily work. ComCashew has enabled me to develop professionally and at the same time to learn a lot about myself and where I want to go in future.

One of the moments I most enjoyed was the participation in one Master Training Programme (MTP) session and there especially the field trip to the cashew nursery and the lectures on cashew production. My interest in these topics intensified my decision to do a master’s degree and in 2018 I finally started my extra-occupational studies in environmental science.

My next stop leads me to the GIZ financial advisory department Africa, and I am already very excited about this change in perspective.

It was a great pleasure to be part of ComCashew. I wish you all the best and hope for a continued positive development of the cashew sector.   

Collaboration despite a pandemic: MOFA’s Support to Sierra Leone and Vietnamese Actors

Collaboration despite a pandemic: MOFA’s Support to Sierra Leone and Vietnamese Actors

Cashew is heterozygote in nature and therefore makes the crop highly complex and genetically unstable especially when cashew seeds are used in the establishment of plantations. Ghana started cashew research activities in 2002 with one of the objectives to develop high yielding clones which are stable and suitable to be planted in all the production zones.

Through the research activities, Ghana has come up with 40 cashew accessions which were found to have good traits. From these 40 accessions, scion banks and polyclonal farms were established from the ten (10) topmost high performing ones. From 2012 to date, further research is being carried out to identify accessions with higher yield (15-30kg/tree/year). In addition, cashew hybrids are also being developed by the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG). Ghana is therefore ranked as number one in terms of cashew research in West Africa. The Directorate of Crop Services (DCS) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture has been collaborating with CRIG over the years on the establishment of scion gardens and poly-clonal farms.

The Directorate, based on a request from Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew), has been supporting other African countries including Sierra Leone with cashew planting materials for the past five (5) years. This is because the Ministry believes that it is in the interest of Africa as a whole to develop the cashew sub-sector together.

Sierra Leone, a relatively new cashew producing country, aims to increase the volume of cashew produced in the country up to 30,000 MT by 2030. In 2020, Sierra Leone requested for 7,000 kg of cashew polyclonal seeds from Ghana through GIZ/ComCashew and Solidaridad West Africa. In order to support Sierra Leone to achieve its goal and to respond to the request from the Sierra Leonean Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), the polyclonal seeds were delivered during the covid-19 pandemic.

In the face of the covid-19 pandemic, the Directorate of Crop Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture engaged a haulage company based in Accra to transport the seeds from Accra to Freetown by road. The Ministry collaborated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration to transport the seeds from Accra, Ghana to Freetown in Sierra Leone without any challenges.

Also, during the lockdown period in Ghana due to covid-19 pandemic, six (6) Vietnamese cashew Quality Analysts who got locked up in Ghana due to the border closure were supported to travel to Abidjan. The Quality Analysts who had signed an agreement with cashew value chain actors in Côte d’Ivoire, were unable to get out of Ghana because of the border closure directive by the President of Ghana. The Ministry of Food and Agriculture in close collaboration with the Ivorian Cotton and Cashew Council (CCA) engaged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and facilitated the issuance of travel permit for them. This enabled them to cross the border to continue their work.

MoFA believes that in collaborating and working with other stakeholders in the sub region, we can jointly build a sustainable and competitive African cashew sector.

VIDEO: The Story of Incajou - From Farm to Fork

VIDEO: The Story of Incajou - From Farm to Fork

IVOIRIENNE DE NOIX DE CAJOU (INCajou) is an industrial company specialized in processing raw cashew nuts in white Cashew kernels for export. It is located in Ivory Coast in the town of Azaguilé and began operations in February 2019. INCajou is also one of the few certified BRCGS factories in Africa

Click the video below to watch.

Cashew processing: challenges and opportunities in the sub-sector

Cashew processing: challenges and opportunities in the sub-sector

Cashew is an economic tree that produces apples and nuts. Cashew is largely cultivated in the forest-savanna transitional zone, covering parts of Ashanti, Bono, Bono East and Savanna Regions.

Over the years, cashew farming in the country has seen many interventions, aimed at increasing production and productivity. Some of the interventions include the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP) in 1983, under which cashew was identified as one of the major non-traditional crops, penciled for development to cushion the government’s diversification of export commodities agenda then.

Fast forward to 2002, there was an implementation of the Cashew Development Project (CDP). The project marked the first major attempt by the government for a well-developed and coordinated activities in the sub-sector. In between the 80s and 2002, few and isolated efforts were made by some individuals, private companies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to promote the cashew industry in Ghana.

In February 2017, a ten-year Cashew Development Project was also launched at Wenchi in the Bono Region. The plan which was launched by the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo seeks to improve research methods, introduce appropriate production and processing technologies, as well as develop marketing strategies along the value-chain. The aforementioned interventions among others have over the years contributed to an increased cashew production and productivity.

It is not surprising that the country continues to enjoy reasonable export earnings from cashew trade. According to the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), cashew is the leading non-traditional export (NTE) commodity in the country. Statistics indicate that in 2018 cashew fetched the country US$378.21 million, representing 43.84 percent increase from US$263.95 million in 2017. The chunk of the export earnings were derived from shipment of raw nuts.

For more information:

Simone Hertzberger new chairman of the Sustainable Nut Initiative

Simone Hertzberger new chairman of the Sustainable Nut Initiative

As of the first of June Simone Hertzberger is the new chairperson of the Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI). This will make her responsible for further expanding SNI's role as a catalyst for making nut supply chains more sustainable. Hertzberger succeeds Wim Schipper (Intersnack Procurement) who has led the SNI board for the past three years.

Simone Hertzberger has a long history in food. After studying veterinary medicine at Utrecht University, she started her career at the Keuringsdienst van Waren in Haarlem. Here she conducted her PhD research. After her PhD, Hertzberger held various positions within Ahold, including Manager Quality & Environment and Vice President Quality Assurance and Product Integrity. In addition, she was involved in the founding of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). She is also a member of the board of SKAL Biocontrole and a member of the Supervisory Board of Fairtrade Original.

Wim Schipper: “I am very happy with Simone Hertzberger as the new chairperson. SNI has brought together a group of committed and driven companies that are working together on making the nut sector more sustainable. SNI is ready for the next phase: setting priorities within the joint objectives, further developing and implementing instruments and growing the participant base. With the knowledge and experience that Simone brings, I’m confident that we will take SNI to the next level.

Over SNI
The Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI) is a pre-competitive, cooperative platform for the nut sector. SNI brings all actors of the international nut supply chain together. The nut sector is characterized by complex supply chains with continuous changing market dynamics and limited transparency. Participants of SNI are collaborating to drive positive change towards sustainable production and transparency an resiliency along the entire chain. A common agenda has been developed, addressing current and future sustainability issues at sector level. Taking into account the specificities and sustainability challenges of the different nut categories. SNI develops strategies and tools to address industry bottlenecks, share and act on lessons learned, bundle resources and scale up impact.

For more additional information please contact:

Karin Egberink, Communications Officer
Secretariat SNI

Views' Corner: Mr. Kofi Atta-Agyepong

Views' Corner: Mr. Kofi Atta-Agyepong

Mr. Kofi Atta-Agyepong is an Agricultural Economist, Development Planner, Institutional, Organizational and Systems Development practitioner, a Gestalt intervener, a life-skills coach and a Counsellor. 

Mr. Atta-Agyepong is the brain behind the Cashew Master Training Programme (MTP) and has been a lead facilitator for the programme since the first edition. He explains the concept of MTP and what makes it an exceptional capacity strengthening programme.

1.       You have been instrumental in the inception and implementation of the cashew Master training Programme since the first edition in 2013. Kindly give us a brief background to the concept of the Master training Programme.

The overarching concept is bringing innovations to scale in cashew ecosystems, ComCashew partner structures, anchoring same and serving a large / increasing demand from many countries.

2.       What makes the Master Training Programme different from other capacity strengthening/building programmes?

MTP is designed as a practitioners’ programme that fosters and encourages a solutions-mind-set to sector issues. The competency-based training combines theory with practical hands-on field application and exposure to industry and research. It is implemented as a three-modular flexible programme, with practical field work spread over a period of seven months in two languages (English and French). Emphasis is placed on systems thinking “Gestalt” and blended process intervention frames.

The training is delivered by highly trained and internationally qualified experts from training, development and private sector backgrounds who are passionate about making positive contributions towards knowledge transfer, development of appropriate skill-sets, competencies and professionalism in the sector. An important strategy in the delivery process is the maintenance of safe, welcoming and non-threatening environment and boundaries that allow participants to develop their confidence, self-esteem, social and professional networks as well as positive relationships.

3.       After 10 successful editions, what do you consider as the biggest impact of MTP?

MTP has produced a cadre of over 700 highly trained and motivated experts who are making strategic contributions in the cashew value chain in their respective marketplaces and policy domains. The experts have acquired demand-oriented industry skills and competencies enhanced by positive attitudes that allow them to intervene productively and effectively.

The over 700 trained experts do recognise and appreciated the fact that positive personal attributes such as self-motivation, self-regulation and hunger for excellence are the essential pillars in their professional and private engagements. The renewed professionalism, work ethics and performance demonstrated by a good number of these 700 experts are duly acknowledged and testified by work colleagues, superiors, family and friends. This positive impact on job performance is serving as main trigger for the continuous and increased number of new applications.

4.       What do you consider to be the major challenge(s) that the programme has had to overcome and what do you see as possible hurdles to overcome in the future?

  • Equal participation by men and women. This could be resolved by direct engagement on women specific websites as well as purposeful and aggressive invitation to women as currently being done.
  • High demand for MTP (currently a backlog of over 300 applications as a call for application attract over 500 responses). Additional resources and partnership with other agencies / projects may the way forward to meet high demand from the industry and Governments.
  • There is a growing demand and investments in cashew plantation development by Governments in the West-African sub-region for sustainable rural incomes, nutrition security and climate mitigating measures. These investments are not, in most cases, accompanied by complementary skills and competencies development. MTP offers a window of opportunity in supporting these respective investments through skills and human capacity development.
  • A good number of participants come onto the programme with psycho-social issues (for instance, trauma from post-war countries and unresolved professional, workplace conflicts and personal issues) which tend to emerge during sessions on personal development. Some of the issues may require referrals outside the scope of assistance provided by the team of facilitators. Current coaching and mentoring by facilitators constitute our personal contributions to the success of MTP and individual wellbeing.

5.       You have designed and facilitated the Cashew Master Training since the first edition, what would you say is behind the success of MTP?

MTP is a product, a brand with clear training concept and industry-led objectives. The training programme places premium on cashew value chain development, productivity improvement and climate resilience measures, processing, consumption, economics of cashew as well as personal development. MTP promotes critical thinking and mind-set solutions where every situation is seen as an opportunity. MTP is well marketed and stands out as a successful and innovative training programme for actors in the cashew value chain in the west-African sub-region.

Key success factors include:

  • Coherent and well-structured transfer of knowledge and innovation packaged in multiple formats that provide opportunity for cross-language / cultural learning and networking across countries in the sub-region.
  • An instructor led training programme delivered by experienced process facilitators, international Scientist (from Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (GRIG) and Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte  d’Ivoire), experts from Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) Ghana and Conseil du Coton et de l’Anacarde (CCA), INADES Formation and Programme d’appui au Secteur Agricole (PSAC) in Côte d’Ivoire, sector experts from African Cashew Alliance (ACA), ComCashew and MTP Graduates from previous editions.
  • Others include private sector practitioners from AFAO/WAWA (Senegal), Chief Executives (CEOs) / Managing Directors of promising Cashew processing factories in Burkina Faso (Anatrans, Gebana), Côte d’Ivoire (Ivoirienne de Noix de Cajou (INC) and OLAM) and Ghana (USIBRAS and Red River Foods).
  • Professional and committed program management and steering by African Cashew Alliance (ACA) and Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) ably supported by highly motivated admin, finance and logistics teams that ensure compliance with corporate procedures.
  • Innovative cost sharing programme where cost of two periods of field work in respective home countries are fully absorbed by Participants and their organisations. In some instances, training cost was fully paid by participating institution.
  • Purposeful promotion and selection of participants, with strong gender and youth presence (since 2019, 50% each), who are mandated by their respective organizations / associations to commit to the programme i.e. release staff, pay part of transport and field work /intersession.
  • Intentional gender representation with support package to nursing mothers to ensure active presence and participation.
  • Inclusion of staff from the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) and ComCashew in the overall training. This has led to increased diversity of skill mix, multiple learning points and anchorage of knowledge and insights within the two sister entities.
  • Acknowledgement of roles and contributions of respective Governments and partners and incorporation of agency “logo” in all presentations and official statements.
  • Proactive investments in health, safety and security measures through implementation of country specific professional briefing by security and health experts at the beginning of the training programme, security and medical presence (1 female doctor and 1 nurse and uniformed men) on site including field trips throughout the entire duration of the training programme.  Recommendations from these experts are systematically integrated into an adapted and robust health, safety and security protocols for the programme.
  • Regional perspective with three training sites, located in at least 2 countries, complemented by practical field work / visit to Wenchi Agricultural Research Station and exposure to Cashew Gene Banks and Clonal Gardens among others. This is followed by visits to cashew farms and interaction with farmers who have adopted research and climate-smart innovations and protocols to reinforce research-extension-farmer linkage mechanisms.

6.       What do you see as the future/outlook for MTP?

MTP is a workplace training programme and dependent on face to face or Facilitator / Instructor-led (ILT). The current shock, scale and impact of COVID-19 are likely to influence how MTP should / could be packaged, delivered within the emerging fields of technology. Technology has the power and ability to build and transfer a wide range of complex cognitive skills. “What we don’t know is how to do it in an affordable way” (Saxberg Bror, 2019). This calls for rethinking for the best-fit that guarantees quality (affective and behavioural skills) and safeguards the integrity of MTP. Cobert Berth (2019) draws our attention to maintaining a good balance mix of technology and personal touch for he has seen the power and difference an individual coach makes “to give people the confidence so that they can get from where they are now to a good job with a sustainable wage”.

7.       Anything to add?

Continue the good work. MTP is a positive contribution towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Making a difference through capacity building: Reinventing ourselves to meet training needs in the cashew sector

Making a difference through capacity building: Reinventing ourselves to meet training needs in the cashew sector

Capacity strengthening is defined as the process that involves adding value to the learners in terms of knowledge, know-how and soft skills. It also involves ensuring that trainees use the knowledge, skills and attitudes acquired in their daily activities so as to make a difference. This process may take various forms as knowledge could be acquired through structured training programmes, but also through internship programmes, exhibitions and coaching and networking events, among others.
In the cashew sector as in other sectors, training needs are increasing.
For example, producers want to increase their yields, processors would like to be at the forefront of technology in order to generate more substantial benefits from the market, and as for research actors, they aspire to discover varieties that would respond to the challenges of the moment.
To meet all these needs, it is necessary to supplement the training efforts of partners and other stakeholders and to provide them with a series of training sessions.
This is the aim of the Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) as it implements various training programmes among which: the Master Training Programme (MTP), the Farmers Business School (FBS); the Agricultural Technical Vocation and Education Training (ATVET), etc.
Moreover, we are still supporting our partners’ capacity strengthening efforts by preparing and participating in networking and information events on cashew.

Why are 580 individuals willing to participate in a training intended for 240 participants over 3 editions ?
For the past few years, the Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) has been providing a learning platform to all the value chain stakeholders. To that effect, the Initiative has implemented a capacity strengthening strategy that aims at bringing all stakeholders together on one platform. This strategy encompasses a series of activities that link knowledge transfer and skills strengthening, but are also people-oriented.
Through this capacity strengthening strategy, ComCashew is committed to training in a bid to make the sector more competitive.

COVID-19 reminds us that every situation is an opportunity!
Since the CoVID-19 pandemic was announced, several training activities have been cancelled. Training facilities are currently shut down, severing the direct links established with learners.
In view of this situation, there was a need to strengthen or reinvent ourselves, and to come up with new ideas.
There was a need to seize the opportunity to highlight the new training technologies that have long been promoted.
Some of these technologies seemed unrealistic or not applicable. But it should be acknowledged that due to the current pandemic situation, we have had the opportunity to test them, understand them and even appreciate them. Who would have thought or even imagined?
E-learning is on all lips. It is readily brought up and is no longer an option but a fact and an inescapable action.
Numerous organizations have gladly embraced it and even extol its virtues. We keep hearing ‘webinar’, ‘teleconference’, ‘videoconference’, etc. all over the place.
What would the situation have been if this option did not exist? Would our learning be stunted? What would our knowledge quest and transfer have looked like?
What will happen to e-learning after the pandemic?
As Mr. Atta Agyepong, MTP Senior Facilitator, would often say, ‘they are not problems, but challenges to overcome and every situation is an opportunity’. The MTP will adapt to the current CoVID-19 situation.
Maybe we will conduct an MTP online. The learning journey continues …

Authour: Cynthia Alda Benon, Advisor (GIZ/ComCashew)

AfriCashewSplits (Week 19: April 27 – May 3, 2020 – N°08) — The source of the latest crop and price infor-mation

AfriCashewSplits (Week 19: April 27 – May 3, 2020 – N°08) — The source of the latest crop and price infor-mation

The International Cashew Market

Cashew kernels markets worldwide have continued to strengthen whole grades as buyers come in to replace purchases already shipped early and sold in the demand boom in Europe and North America during the lockdown. Those markets are likely to return to more normal consumption levels as the lockdown restrictions are relaxed. WW320 prices for good, reliable, certified processors have moved into the US$3.05-$3.10 per lb. range FOB. There are premiums for immediate shipment or spot goods as gaps in buyers cover emerge. Lower level, unqualified processors with nearby material are not selling as well from Vietnam as buyers need certified products. We can expect to hear prices which seem out of line with the trend. In India, wholes grades prices have moved up as a result of resilient demand and reduced processing volumes. The story on broken grades is less optimistic as buyers everywhere hold back on broken for now.
The late buying of African RCN by processors may well cause damage to quality and cause a greater outturn of broken which is not good news for processors. This and the rise in RCN prices means that, although kernels prices have almost returned to where they were before the coronavirus crisis, processors margins are not so good that they will chase RCN prices upwards. The RCN market has steadied on lower supply, government support and the advancing weeks as the window for Vietnamese and Indian buyers to buy narrows. Export of cashew kernels from Vietnam has been at record levels and reports of an exceptionally large crop have turned out to be exaggerated so buyers are likely to remain in the market but will be sensitive to prices. The Indian position is less clear. Processing volumes are reduced by the need for social distancing in factories and the supply chain is restricted by the lockdown regulation. These actions do so far appear to have spared India the worst of the impact of the coronavirus. Everyone will hope that India can get back to business as normal soon.
Although RCN has been shipping and some lockdowns have eased the coronavirus is far from over. One scientist estimated that the World is about a quarter way through the pandemic. The position remains uncertain. For example, the recession in Europe and North America could impact demand and the impact of the pandemic restrictions on the crops in India, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, and other West African countries is far from clear. It is a time to heed the advice of experts to maintain your good health and to make sure that your cashew related decisions are also based on good market information.


Country Reports

RCN prices have stabilized in a wide range of CFA280-380 / kg depending on location and quality. There are some concerns regarding the remaining harvest.
Burkina Faso
The first season harvest is over. The second flowering is low, which does not forecast a good harvest. In addition, the rains that are beginning to fall in the production areas are causing the fruits to fall and deteriorating the quality of the RCN on the farms.Trade continues to intensify with renewed interest from buyers. Competition for RCN at farm gate has pushed up prices. In some villages in the Cascades region, a box of cashew nuts (1.4 kg) was selling for 500 F CFA. That is 350 F CFA per kg farm gate which is above the fixed farm gate price of 330 F CFA per kg. Consequently, this has made many producers to take out their stock for sale. Most processors are able to secure a good level of stock. Those that do not yet have their target volume continue to get supplies. The various actors of the value chain agree that the available volumes are no longer large, even though in some villages, some producers are still harvesting their last crops and others are still refusing to sell their stock, waiting for better prices. RCN quality has dropped and ranges between KOR 44-45 per lb. with a nut count of 190 to 200 per kg due to prolonged storage of stocks at producer level mostly in polypropylene bags. 

Côte d’Ivoire
The crop forecast was reduced by the regulatory body CCA to 730,000 tonnes about 9% down from earlier estimates. Quality has declined for product remaining in the field as rains damage the nuts. Estimates of committed volumes range from 331,000 tonnes (CCA) to 400,000 tonnes from some trade sources. Most buyers are active with prices in a wide range reported from CFA 400 to CFA250/kg at the farm gate depending on quality and location.
Ivorian processors have seen good buying interest for kernels particularly whole grades. Prices have picked up in the last two weeks as buyers in Europe need nearby shipment which has traded up to US$3.12 per lb. FOB. Transit from Abidjan to European ports can be as little as 15 days opening opportunities in markets which is empty of spot stocks.
This week, the farm gate price ranges between GHC3-3.30 with an outturn of 46-47 lbs. RCN FOB ranges between US$1000-1100 per tonne and WW320 is offered at US$ 3.00 – 3.25/lbs.
Guinea Bissau The cashew season is close by and will most likely start when the lockdown is renewed with moderated restrictions on 11th May. Exporters are gearing up for the season with bank advances and rumors of support for the season from the government and international institutions.
Mali continues to face a difficult time as transport and buying are interrupted by the corona virus crisis. The quantity of nuts has dropped this week as farmers are starting to get discouraged by the very low farm gate price. Currently, there is no case of coronavirus in the cashew production areas of Mali and exports are gradually taking place. Buying prices are determined by local buyers who have so far purchased 50 tonnes at a range of 100 – 150 FCFC/kg. Foreign buyers who are already present are cautious because they do not have such a large storage capacity in Mali.

As in many countries, movement of raw material is hindered by restrictions imposed due to coronavirus, but it is reported that some states will ease the lockdown from Monday 4th April. It is reported that Nigeria wants to increase RCN processing and 50,000 tonnes of RCN have been bought so far by local buyers for processing or resale. The trees are no longer yielding and there are not much fruits on them resulting in limited availability of RCN at the farm gate. Prices have picked up this week with farm gate pricing moving up to 180-200 Naira per kg for wet RCN. WW320 is still offered for a competitive price of US$2.80 per lb. RCN quality has dropped to KOR 45 lbs – 46 lbs. Some areas are experiencing even poorer quality of as low as 40 lbs due to poor post-harvest handling. RCN FOB is offered at $1,050 per tonne. 

Senegal                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Currently, the 2019/2020 crop estimate is reported at 50,000 tonnes although the season has not really started as activities are halted because of the coronavirus pandemic. RCN quality this week ranges between 50lbs - 52lbs and farm gate price between 200 – 250 FCFA/kg. To mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the national economy, the “Délégation générale à l'Entrepreneuriat rapide des Femmes et des Jeunes” signed an agreement with Senegalese banks including BNDE, Crédit Mutuel du Sénégal (CMS) and PAMECAS on 28th April. This funding of 6.7 billion F CFA expected to reach 10 billion FCFA will boost activities in the coming weeks. RCN FOB ranges between CFA300-310 per kg.  

Source: African Cashew Alliance (ACA)


Views’ Corner – RAMDE Martin

Views’ Corner – RAMDE Martin

RAMDE Martin, Project Manager at FairMatch Support West Africa (FMS-WA).

FMS-WA supports companies and producers in emerging countries to find new sustainable sources of supply and in their search for new markets and the professionalization of their activities, respectively. 

RAMDE shares his thoughts on capacity building.

1.  What do you think of capacity building in the cashew sector?

Building the capacity of producers or producer groups is a key element in the development of a sustainable sector. It enables the players concerned to be as professional as possible and to carry out their activities efficiently.

2.   How do you think the Master Trainer Training Program (MTP) has contributed to capacity building in its program?

Unlike the usual training programmes, the MTP is intended to be more of a platform for knowledge and experience exchanges and for networking among participants from different countries. This promotes rapid learning and ensure that participants learn from the experience of others.

3.   How do you apply the skills you learn through MTP in your work environment?

The themes developed under the MTP are very diverse and cover all areas of the value chain: from production to consumption. The skills acquired during this session allowed us to improve our response to:

  • Production: to improve orchard-building practices, maintain orchards and improve crop quality.
  • Marketing: quality controls and optimization of the marketing process.

In addition to these two aspects mentioned above, the MTP has also helped improve our overall organization of producer groups to be able to sign and manage a commercial contract and to be able to manage certifications  including organic and fair trade.

Finally, MTP has also been beneficial in the development of new projects or programs in the cashew sector.

 4.    In your opinion, what priority areas/sectors (in the cashew value chain) requiring capacity building are emerging? Please explain the reason for your selection.

Like all sectors, product quality remains an essential element in the behaviour of the market as a whole. Thus, investment in capacity building for production in quantity and quality according to international standards is high on the list of priority.

In addition to the conventional global market, niche markets have been in vogue in recent years and mainly concern kernels under certification (organic and/or fair trade). Capacity building is therefore needed to enable players to respond to these types of ‘generally more profitable’ markets.

Finally, the complexity of the cashew market requires capacity buildings for main players (producers) on overall market understanding, production cost analysis and sales decision.

5.     What do you think is the basis for the success of MTP's?

  • The MTP brings together experts from different countries and provides a platform for sharing experiences and know-how, unlike other traditional training platforms;
  • The intersessions with working groups on specific themes are very enriching for the participants;
  • Innovative topics delivered according to the current context and evolution of the sector as a whole.

6.    What recommendations can you make to improve or enhance the success of MTP?

Organizing certain sessions in the least developed countries in the sector for increased interest.

7.    What action can be taken in the medium and short term to increase the efficiency and relevance of capacity building for the sustainable development of the African cashew sector?

This can be viewed from two angles:

  • The professionalization of the inter-professions for an ownership of the activities of the sector by the actors themselves
  • The setting up of formal structures to structure and capitalize on all the multiple interventions in the sector for greater efficiency.    

8.    Since your participation in MTP, have you undertaken networking activities? If so, please describe them and explain their contribution to the development of your business and those of the cashew sector.

  • Support of two cooperatives in Burkina Faso (Société Coopérative Simplifiée des Producteurs de Légumes Et Fruits (SCOOPS/PRO-LEF) in Orodara and Société Coopérative Simplifiée des Coopératives des Producteurs des Noix et d'Oléagineux de Samogohiri (SCOOPS/CO.PRO.N.O.S) in Samogohiri) in in ;

-          adjusting commercial procedures to respect contractual commitments with their clients

-          adjusting production procedures and manuals of the internal control and quality management system with a view to acquiring organic and fair-trade certification

  • Training of trainers (Ministry of Agriculture agents including the Direction Générale de la Promotion de l'Economie Rurale (DGPER) via the partnership with PADA/ REDD+ (Cashew support project for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries) on the requirements of organic agriculture and fair trade.

9.    Could you share with us existing capacity building success models that you enjoy that can be replicated or expanded? Or a design model (approach) not yet implemented or a specific aspect that you would like to see reflected in capacity building in the cashew sector?

With the health and security crises that our countries have been experiencing in recent years, new capacity building programmes are being experimented with and are mainly based on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This allows each player to meet production standards without necessarily having to go through traditional training sessions. We believe that this approach will be the future of capacity building programmes and therefore worth investing in.

10.    Do you have a final say for readers?

Capacity building sessions for actors in a sector remain essential elements for the professionalization of the sector as a whole. In the specific case of the rural world, training, monitoring and evaluation must be continuous activities for greater efficiency.

To conclude, new stakeholders (projects and/or programmes) must, however, build on the achievements of previous ones in order to provide specific advisory support according to the global context of the cashew market: "African countries are more producers than consumers".  

Views' Corner: Prof. Dan Inkoom

Views' Corner: Prof. Dan Inkoom

Prof. Dan Inkoom is an Associate Professor at the Department of Planning, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, (KNUST) Prof. Dan InkoomKumasi, Ghana and a visiting Professor at the School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Prof. Inkoom has over 25 years’ experience as University Lecturer and consultant in Development Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Training Needs and Institutional Assessment in over 20 countries on four continents. He shares his insights on capacity building/strengthening.

1.        Please tell us what capacity strengthening involves and why it is important

Capacity strengthening and capacity development are sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the deliberate process through which the ability or competencies of an individual, group or organisation is improved and retained for a particular purpose. The improvement can be in several spheres including knowledge, skills and attitudes in order to achieve set goals. The outcome of capacity strengthening is extending the range of capabilities of the recipient in ways that ensures value addition. Capacity strengthening may also target systems, structures, and procedures that enhance results and outcomes.

2.      What role does capacity building play in the agriculture/cashew sector?

In the agriculture/cashew sector, capacity building ensures that all actors along the value chain understand are willing, and capableof performing their functions so that there is food security and sustainable incomes.

3.      What are views on current training programmes targeted at the cashew sector? Where do you see possible improvements?

Many training programmes have good intentions, but it takes skill and experience to design a programme that has the potential to bring change that is lasting. Any training programmes that seeks to make impact must address not only the head and hands, but also the heart. For me, the heart is the most crucial to cause shifts, and any desire to bring about change must focus attention on this “soft skill”.

4.      Are the current educational systems favorable towards capacity strengthening in the agric sector?

The current educational system needs to refocus and place emphasis on agriculture as essential to the survival of humankind. Agriculture should not be a subject “of last resort” especially at the secondary and tertiary level. 

5.       You are part of the facilitation team of the Cashew Master Training, what would you say is behind the success of MTP?

Teamwork, dedication and the conscious planning that goes into the selection of participants to the selection of venues, facilitators, resource persons, and judicious use of resources, including time.

6.      What makes the Master Training Programme different from other capacity strengthening / building programmes?

A number of elements set MTP apart. Among them are:

  • High level of dedication from management from ComCashew and ACA
  • Multi-country, multi-sectoral and across all parts of the cashew value chain
  • Hands-on and practice orientation of the approach and exposure to industry
  • The Use of English and French as official training languages
  • Use of organisation development (gestalt approach) in combination with other capacity development designs and “adult learning methodologies to deliver training.
  • Delivery by highly trained and competent experts and the focus on the self and changing attitudes instead of rote learning

7.      Anything to add?

If an approach works, do more of it and do it more efficiently

Ghana’s Cashew Trade and Local Processing in the Wake of COVID-19

Ghana’s Cashew Trade and Local Processing in the Wake of COVID-19

With more than two million cases[1] across the globe as of April 22, 2020, the impact of COVID-19 has been far-reaching. Governments around the world are in a position never experienced before, as each attempt to discover the best strategies with which to address the pandemic. Several governments have had to issue support packages to businesses and citizens.

International businesses are one of the hardest hit by the spread of the coronavirus. For the cashew sector, the situation is no different as sector actors face diverse challenges. China, USA and European countries, which are the major cashew kernel markets, have closed their borders to travels to control the spread of the deadly virus, slowing down trade. Consequently, cashew processing giants like Vietnam and India which are the major exporters of kernels to these countries have drastically reduced their processing volumes. Preventive measures such as social distancing and work shifts to reduce the number of workers at a time have resulted in reduced volumes and closure of some factories.

Because most of Vietnam and India-processed cashews are sourced from African countries, there has been falling demand for Raw Cashew nuts (RCN), and consequently, a drop in RCN prices.

Considering the slow down in trade activities, it can be assumed that there would be a significant reduction in the procurement of RCN from Ghana and neighbouring producing countries.

In Ghana, the implementation of preventive measures against the effects of COVID-19, such as the closure of all borders to entry, a ban on social gatherings, lockdowns in high-risk cities, and the introduction of work shifts for essential services have brought a sudden halt to international cashew trading. Since there is currently more RCN supply than demand, the price of RCN is dwindling. It has been reported that RCN prices have dropped by up to 50%; from about GHC 700 per bag to between GHC 350 and GHC 450 across the country’s producing areas[2].

Response of local processors to COVID-19

According to the Association of Cashew Processors Ghana (ACPG), three of the local factories are still engaged in processing activities, one has paused processing for equipment maintenance for a week and two are yet to begin 2020 production. Processors who supply the local consumer market have not seen a considerable drop in local demand for cashew nor sales by distributors on the local market.

Processors in Ghana normally observe strict food safety protocols that include regular washing of hands with soap under running water as well as the use of hand sanitizers. In response to the threat of COVID-19, workers continue to observe these protocols, with factory owners increasing the supply of sanitizers and water for frequent hand washing.

Those in the packaging unit sanitize their feet as well to prevent the spread of the virus.

Factories are also implementing social distancing by restricting employees present at a given time to 25. One roasting unit, which supplies nuts to the local market, has a maximum of 10 people at post at a time. One of the largest processing units in the country has closed for two weeks to protect their workers and community.

Local processors rely heavily on foreign trade, and although some processors are still able to export at the moment, this is looking less possible in the near future, should the spread of COVID-19 persist.

Market implications and prospects

Measures adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have forced producers to sell to the domestic market only. Given that RCN is priced based on quality, which diminishes the longer it is stored, it may not be prudent for producers to hoard stock in anticipation of better prices when the pandemic blows over. They are obliged to sell at current low prices. But do local processors have enough capacity to absorb the excess? Will the drop in prices give local processors a better opportunity to acquire RCN for production? It is possible that we witness a similar trend as in 2018 when RCN prices were at an all-time low, yet local processors were unable to take advantage of the situation due to inadequate capital.

With the possibility of impacts persisting long after COVID-19 has passed due to a possible global recession, will these developments culminate in a loss of farmers’ interest in cashew production in Ghana?

While questions persist, this season of unknowns presents an opportunity for Ghana’s cashew actors to discover new possibilities for the cashew value chain.

On the global demand side, worldwide consumption of cashew is stable, with a tendency toward increasing. The current stable demand is largely due to a combination of increased demand from the US and European consumers, and a decrease in demand from the Middle East. However, this decreased demand from the Middle East is due to supply chain disconnections as a result of COVID-19. The increased demand from US and European consumers (who constitute the world’s highest consumption) could be described as a potential silver lining of current events. With health as a major focus because of COVID-19, consumers’ demand for healthy nuts like cashew is rising. How can the African cashew sector take advantage of the presented opportunities?

Prioritising and investing in a robust local processing industry could shorten the supply chain to final consumers of cashews since an Africa-Europe or Africa- US shipping route is shorter than Africa-Asia- Europe/ USA.

In 2018, the cashew sector raked in about GHS 378m as a Non-Traditional Export crop for Ghana. The sector is projected to be a major earner in the agriculture sector for the country. Cashew has the potential to earn even more revenue for the country if given consistent strategic attention by the government and key stakeholders.

Value addition of kernels brings in at least three times more export revenue than exported raw cashew nuts. Beyond the nut, local raw cashew nut (RCN) processing also provides additional revenue streams through by-products such as the Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL) and fuel from cashew nut shells. CNSL is used extensively in the petroleum and paint production industries and the production of pesticides. Residual shells are also used as fuel for powering heavy industrial equipment. The cashew apple can be processed into fruit juice, wine, ethanol for industrial use, jam and other food products.

Ghana has the opportunity to take advantage of the opportunities using the Ghana Tree Crops Authority – which was passed into an Act in December 2019 and is planned to be operationalized this year – as a tool, in collaboration with other sector actors. Consistent strategic interventions can be developed and implemented to build a wholistic value chain, resilient as much as possible to another global shock to the levels of this current COVID-19 pandemic.

Staff Profile - Juliana Ofori-Karikari

Staff Profile - Juliana Ofori-Karikari

It takes hard work to be successful... Love whatever you do, focus on your goals and respect everyone’s contribution… And above all, recognise the potentials of others in your work and support them to build up -These have been my guiding principles throughout my life.

My name is Mrs. Juliana Ofori-Karikari from Larteh Akwapim, in the Eastern Region of Ghana.  I am married with five children, four girls and a boy, and just recently one grandson. 

Growing up it was my dream to be a professional teacher as I have always loved to exchange and to share knowledge with others. Moving on, I had my second cycle education in Secretaryship, followed by a Diploma in Accounting, and a Bachelor of Management Studies, and now, holding a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (Finance) from the University of Ghana (2009).  I worked in various private sector institutions in Finance and Administration and later also in operations - an IBM firm, the Netherlands Kabel Network (NKF), the State Gold Mining Corporation, DL Steel, a family business in textile distribution and a calibration company. The worked the longest, from 1990 until 2014, with Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) in various departments: investment banking department including Stock Exchange and Securities and Exchange Commission; and in the Credit Risk Management Department.  

We had a huge Cashew Tree in the house when I was growing up.  I enjoyed the fruit when it was in season. As children we would chew the soft juicy part and roast the hard nut in fire. When I heard of ComCashew, I was excited to work with the project, and being re-introduced to the fruit from my childhood days. Since 2016, I am the Finance and Administrative Manager, in charge of and coordinating with more than 20 staff in the various country and site offices for the large regional project. Interestingly every activity on the project ends in the Finance and Administration Department, ranging from Events, Contracting to Procurement.  We manage and monitor, and managements decisions rely on us. I call it the “engine room” or “the heart” of the project.

I am happy to remind some staff members how best to comply with standard operating procedures of GIZ & government regulations, and thus meeting the goals of ComCashew/ GIZ.   My personal joy is to nurture young and newly employed professionals in their assignments, to grow in their abilities and to never deny opportunities in challenging assignments.  I like the enriching discussions and enjoy travelling with them.I am elated whenever my team achieves results. Recently, it was a seemingly minor success but meaning much and making our day – the balancing of the project bookkeeping in the Abidjan office with the one of the country offices.  I am motivated by the cooperation from the Finance and Administration teams, from the Executive Director, Rita Weidinger, and the many project partners we work with.

Views corner - Dr. Gniré Mariam Ouattara

Views corner - Dr. Gniré Mariam Ouattara

Dr. Gniré Mariam Ouattara, Development Economist, Local Development and Project Management Expert. Formerly Technical Director for cashew in charge of agricultural production, producers’ training and guidance, stakeholders’ organization, and management of selected development projects on behalf of the cashew industry at the Cashew and Cotton Council (CCA). Currently Director of production at CCA, shares her views on capacity building. 

1. You took part in the training organized jointly by GIZ/ComCashew and its partners in Abidjan on 12th February 2020 under the theme “Leadership skills and how to develop them”. How do you perceive the role of capacity strengthening in empowering women?
Leadership is an impressive skill that grants someone the art of influencing, regrouping, dominating and guiding others. As impressive as it may appear, this talent is not inborn but rather cultivated as each one of us could become a leader either in his/her personal, social or professional life.

Developing leadership skills among women in Africa is a key element in helping them to take a more active part in the development of African countries. Hence, capacity strengthening plays a predominant role in empowering women. When women are well trained in their areas of activity, at leadership level and in other areas, they are more confident and efficient and this will significantly improve their performance at work, in their families and in their countries.

2. How did the training raise your awareness and what did you learn?
The training has helped me to identify my strengths and weaknesses. It enabled me to analyze my career path both introspectively and retrospectively. Through this, I was able to pinpoint the areas that I need to improve immediately.

3. Have you taken resolutions for change following the training? If yes, what are they?
The only resolution for change I took following the training is that I absolutely need to improve on my weaknesses to become more efficient. If we want to become women leaders in our community, we need to challenge ourselves. This would enable us to not only identify our potential strengths and weaknesses, but also to ascertain why they exist and how to optimize them to benefit ourselves and our country.

4. According to you, what is the role of the CasheWomen network in strengthening capacity in the cashew sector?
The network plays a very important role. In addition to the training held this year, the women platform facilitates mutual exchanges and consequently, ongoing capacity strengthening. Since we are part of a mutual support group, we are assured of synergy in exchanging ideas.

5. How does that affect gender mainstreaming and women empowerment? What are the existing and potential challenges?
Thanks to ComCashew’s activities such as the Master Training Programme (MTP), the women’s platform and the CasheWomen network, we have jointly set up an important network of dynamic and skilled women in the cashew sector. Women are increasingly represented in the various elements of the cashew value chain. Despite these encouraging results, we still need to strive further in terms of capacity strengthening and inclusion of women at decision making level in the industry. We have to move forward and pull together to increase the representation rate of women in the decision making spheres of this sector. This is a challenge for us women who have had this industry at heart for over a decade.

6. Globally, we note a low representation of women at decision-making levels in the cashew value chain. What are the underlying factors of this situation and the consequences?
I believe that the nature and level of training are decisive. If women want to attain high positions in the various components of the cashew value chain and take part in decision making, they have to be willing to undergo quality training so as to become highly competent and essential.

7. Based on your proven experience in the industry, what are the priority areas that require capacity strengthening for African women involved in the cashew sector? Kindly explain your area of interest.

• Leadership development;
• Public speaking;
• Capacity strengthening in technical areas (Management, financing, accounting, marketing, mechanization, agronomy, phytopathology, entomology, etc.).

8. What practical/innovative solutions do you suggest to improve women leadership in the cashew value chain in the short and medium terms?
Capacity strengthening, the implementation in situ, the use of skills acquired during the training in the field.

9. Could you share with us your preferred existing capacity strengthening success stories that could be replicated or scaled up? Or a design model (approach) not yet implemented or a specific aspect that you would like to be included in capacity strengthening trainings in the cashew sector?

Results-oriented project management. I truly enjoyed this approach during a training and applying it in projects could make the industry a lot more competitive.

10. A last word for our readers?
I would first like to thank the Director General of CCA, Dr. Adama Coulibaly for the gender mainstreaming policy implemented within his institution. Thanks to his leadership, women are represented at each level of the CCA. My deepest gratitude goes to the ComCashew team and especially to Rita Weidinger for all the efforts in developing the cashew sector in general, but especially capacity strengthening and gender mainstreaming in the various elements of the cashew value chain. I also thank all the readers for their time and encourage them to support all pro-gender initiatives.

About the CCA: The September 13, 2013 Reform through Law No. 2013-656 enabled to create the Council for the regulation, monitoring and development of the cotton and cashew sectors, Cotton and Cashew Council (CCA) in short, in Côte d'Ivoire. The missions of the CCA are the following:
• Monitor the implementation and ensure the compliance with principles and rules governing both sectors;
• Mediate conflicts between operators or between the latter and service providers;
• Certify operators and service providers in both sectors;
• Manage economic information in both sectors;
• Inform the licensing applications from industrialists in the cotton and cashew sectors;
• Ensure quality control of the weight of cotton and cashew products;
• Conduct the audit and monitoring of services provided within the cotton and cashew sectors.

Interviewed by Derrick Dapaah, M&E officer—GIZ/ComCashew

Developing Capacities of Youth in The Agric Sector

Developing Capacities of Youth in The Agric Sector

The youth make up about 14 percent (1.2 billion) of the world’s population and is expected to raise to about 16 percent (1.4 billion) in the year 2050. Population growth is declining fast in the advanced economics but in Southern Asia and Sub-Sahara Africa there is a hike in population growth. This goes to tell that there would be more mouths to feed in the next 20 to 30 years.
A greater portion of the food produced in Africa and in Ghana particularly, is produced by an ageing group of smallholder farmers who use outdated technologies and farm practices. The knowledge level amongst these smallholder farmers with regards to new technologies such as the use of improved seeds, irrigation, fertilizer application and crop rotation techniques as well as new digital technologies is inadequate, and the rate of adoption is usually low. This results in low productivity and consequently in low incomes amongst most farmers. This has become a disincentive for a lot of youth to move into fulltime agribusiness.

To increase productivity, it is essential to intentionally attract and involve the youth, who form the largest proportion of the population in our continent, in agricultural capacity development. Over the years agriculture has not received the needed assistance in terms of finances, capacity development, a good land tenure system and favorable policies thereby making it unattractive to rural and urban youth. The youth must be re-engaged in agriculture and be exposed to the great potential and prospects that the sector presents for them and for their future. Moreover, the effect of climate change has made climate smart agriculture the most prudent choice and must therefore be included in any capacity development programmes especially those targeted at potential agripreneurs and young people who are in the agricultural value chain.
How do we go about the development of the capacity of the youth?
The most practical way is the promotion of tailor-made training/educational programmes (technical up-skilling training, field days, agro-tourism, and agricultural boot camps for youth) to provide a knowledge base for potential youth farmers. This would allow rural and urban youth to acquire the necessary skills and knowledge to engage in agriculture and adopt climate-smart farming methods for high productivity. Also, the curricula of agricultural training and farm institutes must include on
short and part-time courses in specific areas along the value chain to enable prospective youth farmers to enrol and obtain knowledge in their chosen field.
A key aspect of developing the capacities of youth in agriculture is Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). As the youth are currently the generation that has seen the most rapid evolution of technologies and are engaged as primary users and creators, increased ICT in agriculture will make the sector more attractive to the youth. Youth already engaged in ICTs who have some interest in agriculture to be trained to fit into the intersection of ICT and agriculture. Through this, online and digital tools can be created and enhanced to share knowledge and increase access to training for youth in the various agricultural value chains. Increased ICT in agriculture could provide better access to market information, improved production techniques, new technologies, financing opportunities and increased networking opportunities amongst sector actors. In Ghana, companies like Farmerline, which develops ICT solutions to empower smallholder farmers, are well-placed at the intersection of ICT and agriculture. ICT as a source of innovation in farming technologies and methods, help lower costs of production and increase access to markets for smallholder farmers.
Another area for investing in the capacities of youth is mechanization. Training in the development and maintenance of mechanization equipment used in agricultural production is a means of engaging the

youth in agriculture. Investing in mechanization training provides a longer pay-off, as youth have longer active years ahead of them.
Enterprises and the industry should be engaged and encouraged to grant access to students of farm institute/training centres to be attached to their organizations for practical training. This would provide the students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and ensure that graduates from these institutions are fit for the world of work and have the requisite knowledge and experience to make them employable and successful, in the case of entrepreneurs. Also, industrial training should form 80% of the training that goes on in our agricultural training institutions to enable young agripreneurs practically put their new ideas on production methods to test and bring them to perfection and adoption in the value chain.
In conclusion, the creation or strengthening of farmer-based organisations (FBOs), credit schemes for youth farmers, incorporating ICTs as a subsector in agriculture, investing in mechanization training, farm and project management training and support, business/supply linkage support and incentives will go a long way in attracting and retaining the youth into the agriculture sector. These interventions would also strengthen the capacities of the youth in agriculture and reduce the failure rates of young agripreneurs.
The assurance of being able to make a living from agriculture is valuable in preventing rural-urban migration, assuring food security, reducing the high unemployment rate and subsequently contributing to poverty reduction .

Author: Timothy Gyan, Implementation Advisor (Ghana Skills Development Initiative, GSDI)

Views Corner - Mrs. Assita Chérie Traoré Coulibaly

Views Corner - Mrs. Assita Chérie Traoré Coulibaly


Mrs. Assita Chérie Traoré Coulibaly, Director, Department of Export Crops and Forest Production at the Interprofessional Fund for Agricultural Research and Consultancy (FIRCA) shares her views on capacity building

1. You took part in a training on “Leadership skills and how to develop them” held on 12 February 2020 by Mme TraoreGIZ/ComCashew and its partners. How do you perceive the role of capacity building in empowering women?

The role of capacity building in empowering women is to provide trainees with the relevant tools that enable them to develop their activities/know-how or to help other women facilitate their empowerment.

2. What effect did the training have on you in terms of awareness and learning?

This training enabled me not only to learn from the other women present but also to identify my strengths and weaknesses through the exercises.

3. Have you taken resolutions for change following the training? If yes, what are they?

You should not self-censor or be afraid to share your points of view, however small they may seem.

4. According to you, what role does CasheWomen play in strengthening capacity in the cashew sector?

It boosts women in the industry and encourages them to take charge.

5. How does it affect gender mainstreaming and empowerment? What are the current and possible challenges?

Women realize that they actually have an equally important role to play in the industry just as men and should not be relegated to factory jobs. They are capable and intelligent enough to occupy key positions at all levels of the value chain.

Regarding the challenges, there is a need to demolish stereotypes that, in many societies, relegate women to a second-class role, that of mother or wife, incapable of managing factories or teams made up exclusively of men.

6. At the global level, women occupy very few decision-making positions at various levels of the cashew value chain. What factors underpin that situation and what are the consequences?

A few factors were mentioned in item 7. The consequence is that since women are made to feel less than, they lack assurance and confidence which are important qualities for assuming leadership positions.

7. Based on your experience in the industry, what are the priority areas that need capacity strengthening for African women operating in the cashew sector? Could you kindly explain your area of intervention?

Three main levels require capacity strengthening for women:

-          Top management: Strengthen your managerial position to increase your influence

-          Build and develop your leadership

-          Training in leadership and management

8. What are the pragmatic/innovative solutions you recommend to improve women leadership in the cashew value chain in the short and medium term?

In the short term, I anticipate the strengthening of women capacity on relevant topics. As a long term solution, it would be a good catalyst to establish a fund to support women empowerment to finance innovative projects.

9. Could you share with us success stories about capacity strengthening that you value and that could be replicated or scaled up? Or a designing (approach) model that is not yet implemented or a specific aspect that you wish would be addressed in capacity strengthening efforts in the cashew sector?

No success stories have actually caught my attention as more often than not the real targets have not been affected. Indeed, most women have no information on projects that support them. Consequently, just a few of them are informed and benefit from these projects. In my humble opinion, there is a need to emphasize information and awareness before moving on to capacity strengthening on topics of interest.

 10. A last word for our readers?

I encourage women not only to have an active share in capacity strengthening sessions, but also to not allow themselves to be belittled. Especially, they should have a willingness to work hard and value a job well done which will in turn ensure recognition and consideration by others. 

ACA successfully organizes another Access to Finance (A2F) forum for cashew nut processing

ACA successfully organizes another Access to Finance (A2F) forum for cashew nut processing

While the African cashew processing sector is constantly moving towards an ever more stable and sustainable business environment, the industry still faces challenging access to finance limitations. Working capital, trade finance and expansion capital needs are often unmet, as most financial institutions are still unfamiliar with the cashew processing industry, and many processors lack the capacity to develop bankable loan requests. Local and regional financial institutions are still mostly working with the short-term raw nut trade and export financing, while mid- and long-term financing for cashew processing remain unexplored areas for most of them. To this end, the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) supports cashew processors with technical assistance, capacity building programmes and workshops to support local processors.

On September 24, 2019, the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) organized another edition of the access to finance (A2F) forum for cashew processors in Cotonou, Benin in collaboration with BeninCaju (implemented by Technoserve Benin and CSR) and with the support of the Interprofession of the Cashew Value Chain (IFA), the forum welcomed 60 participants from among others Togo, Nigeria, Ghana and India. The forum was held, with the participation of the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Managing Director of ACA, the Country Director of Technoserve Benin, the Head of Mission for the BeninCajú project, banks and financial institutions as well as cashew nut processors from Benin and the sub-region. 

The purpose of the workshop was to define ways and means of reducing the gap in understanding between the demand for and supply of financing for cashew nut processors in West Africa on the one hand, and on the other hand improve knowledge on access to financial investment opportunities. In an effort to help understand why this gap exists from the perspective of the actors involved, a brief pre-workshop survey was conducted with both financial institutions and cashew processors operating in Benin.

After a successful opening, honored by the Minister, the day continued with the following program:

  • Presentation by ACA: Management of a cashew nut processing company
  • Presentation by BeninCajù: The results of the survey of financial institutions and processors
  • A round table discussion discussing experiences of investors and processors and respective visions for future access to finance solutions

The second part of the day was devoted to parallel sessions in small groups with financial institutions on the one hand (SME financing officers) and cashew nut processors on the other hand (processing plant management). The reason why the two groups of actors met in separate rooms was to create an intimate setting where candid discussions could take place. The idea is that we need to learn about the main challenges that make access to funding for cashew nut processing so difficult. Only in this way sound strategies can be developed to address the experienced bottlenecks. The format of the breakout session proved to be an opportunity for actors to highlight their main challenges and how they would like them to be addressed.

The end of the forum was marked by a plenary presentation of the breakout session results sharing the key messages received from each stakeholder group.

The recommendations made by financial institutions to cashew nut processors were as follows:

  1. Understand that banks are a profit-driven business and have negative experience working with the sector
  2. Have a robust business plan you can defend; respect the terms of the financing contract
  3. Create a sustainable organization with good governance

In return, the cashew nut processors' recommendations to financial institutions were:

  1. Have a better understanding of the sector and its cash cycle
  2. Cost of credit (including any applicable fees) should not exceed 10% (Benin context)
  3. Diligently apply BCEAO regulations on receipt of foreign funds to encourage fair competition for buying RCN

Link: [ workshop output document]

Finally, based on discussions throughout the day, we heard two consistent messages:

  1. Cashew processors are looking for financing partners willing to share in the risk, which implies they should focus on a strategic shift away from traditional credit instruments, and towards working with institutions willing to provide equity investment
  2. Financial Institutions are looking for even more support in terms of technical assistance if they decide to lend to cashew processors. Structures like ACA and BeninCajù can provide some of this technical assistance [i.e.  BeninCajù infosheetACA services]

Continuing along this path, the ACA and BeninCajù are discussing plans to facilitate better access to funding through targeted one-on-one meetings between the two parties.

Following the success of this forum, the ACA and its partners would like to thank all those who took part! We look forward to welcoming you to our next workshop on access to finance for cashew processing. Stay tuned to our website for updates or subscribe to our mailing list by sending an email to

Link: Presentations

Link: Photo Gallery

Author: Ernest Mintah

Smallholders ready for investment and business: Farmer Business School

Smallholders ready for investment and business: Farmer Business School

Two thirds of Africans depend on agriculture for their livelihood. One third of African GDP is generated by agriculture. Rural areas are home to 70% of Africa’s poor. Rural-urban migration, in particular of youth, is accelerating. Food imports to Africa cost 35 billion USD per year and are estimated to triple by 2025 if production does not significantly increase.

Inclusive business, i.e. integration in national, regional and international value chains, provides incomes, jobs and feeds the growing urban population. Entrepreneurship, despite its importance to empower farmers for business and equitable participation in sustainable economic growth, still remains a marginalized field.

The Farmer Business School (FBS) approach, has been developed by Sustainable Smallholder Agri-Business Programme (SSAB) in 2010 with public and private partners and the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and World Cocoa Foundation. FBS aims to strengthen agricultural smallholders’ business skills and entrepreneurial capacities for more income from diversified production. The main purpose of this training is to boost the production of small market-oriented farmers so that they can get quality products, good profits and be competitive in the market. The training sessions cover

  • Principles of farming as a business and planning;
  • Units and measurement for rational farm management and investments;
  • Basics of human nutrition and farm management for adequate food and a balanced diet;
  • Economics of current and improved production techniques (lead product and 2 food products);
  • Decisions for more and more diversified income and risk assessment;
  • Strategies to diversify income;
  • Financial management;
  • Savings and access to credit;
  • Benefits of quality production;
  • Benefits of membership in agricultural producer organizations;
  • Cash flow and profitability of longer term investments in production or equipment or, according to the needs and opportunities, guidance on certification and standards;
  • Becoming an entrepreneur in practice.

During five subsequent mornings, male and female producers discover that agriculture is not a bad fate and learn how to develop it as business. The tools help and motivate them to invest and to get organized as groups and cooperatives for better yields and profits while buffering market and production risks. FBS didactics target knowledge, skills and attitudes. The empowerment of agricultural smallholders as economic actors and commercial partners is thus at the core.

According to an impact assessment study carried out by SSAB, 74% of surveyed FBS graduates use FBS tools for planning, records and calculation of profit-loss. 50 % have savings at a bank or with their cooperative, 41% qualified for agricultural loans. 40% of 16,600 trained groups registered or reactivated producer organizations. Over 50% of FBS groups organize bulk sales and purchase of inputs. 45% of the groups registered as a cooperative or association. Starting from baselines between 70 to 205 USD, trained smallholders increased their real income from food production from 668 USD (Togo) to up to 3,581 USD (Nigeria) thus buffering volatile incomes from cocoa. Farmers reinvest additional income in production, replanting of cocoa and improved housing. 71% of FBS graduates pay school fees for their children and 85% use additional income to improve the nutrition of their families.

Over 20 programs of German development cooperation, their public and private partners have been supported by SSAB to introduce, to adapt and manage FBS and other agri-business trainings for large-scale outreach. Over 70 curricula have been developed for 34 different agricultural production systems and value chains. They always cover one lead product (e.g cocoa, chicken) and two other food products with promising markets and sound sustainable technologies. So far, FBS has been adopted by other value chain programmes and actors, reaching over 1.4 million farmers (33% women), whereas over 480,000 are cocoa producers. National partners and institutions such as Ghana Cocoa Board, ANADER in Côte d’Ivoire, have fully adopted FBS approach in their national extension programs ensuring the sustainability of FBS approach beyond the time of GIZ projects and partnerships.

 A. Matthess Agri-Business Facility for Africa GIZ

FBS in Africa ©: A. Matthess Agri-Business Facility for Africa GIZ 

Building on practical experiences and lessons learned throughout the years, the SSAB launched a handbook to provide guidelines, tools and recommendations for newcomers in 2017. The handbook supports successful introduction, implementation, quality management and sustainable anchoring of the FBS approach by projects, partners and for various value chains.

Using the successful architecture of topics, the FBS Training curriculum has also been adapted to cashew production systems in Benin (ProAgri), Togo (ProDRA) and Côte d’Ivoire (ComCashew and CCA). So far 27,600 cashew producers (8,446 women) have been trained in these tree countries. A post-training follow-up in Côte d’Ivoire showed that trained farmers adopted the principle of farming activities planning as well as GAP. They have organised themselves in cashew cooperatives and initiated bulk selling of their cashew nuts. 

A group of cashew farmers trained on FBS in Côte d’Ivoire ©: Mohamed Salifou for GIZ/ComCashew

A group of cashew farmers trained on FBS in Côte d’Ivoire ©: Mohamed Salifou for GIZ/ComCashew

With support of the new Agribusiness Facility for Africa (ABF) programme, GIZ/ComCashew is customizing the 12 modules of FBS further for Ghana. Cashew is tackled as lead product. Groundnuts and maize are complementary products providing food and income. In addition, groundnut contributes to improve soil fertility and enhances quicker break-even of investments in the rehabilitation of old cashew plantations through top working

ComCashew provides technical cashew expertise upon request of bilateral programs ProEcon/Promove in Mozambique and PADA in Madagascar. ABF supports them in strategic clarification, economic analysis and adaptation of FBS training to foster business skills and attitudes, financial management and investments into GAP of ten thousands cashew smallholders in these countries.

Conclusion and outlook.FBS fills a gap in traditional rural development programmes and complements technical training, agricultural extension, inputs and financial services. After FBS training, farmers invest in good agricultural practices because they understand the rationale behind it, and request additional specific training and resources. They also organise in cooperatives for marketing their harvest and use financial services. Farmers increase their income, create jobs in rural areas and contribute to food security through increased incomes and diversification.

To respond to new capacity-building needs in agribusiness services that emerged from the successful implementation of the FBS, SSAB developed the modular training approach Cooperative Business School (CBS). CBS training strengthens Agricultural Producer Organisations (APO) in service delivery to their members: the focus is on group marketing, bulk input purchase and production of inputs, links to training services, to buyers and financial institutions. Originally designed for cocoa, CBS has been adapted to rice by CARI and Green Innovation Centre in Nigeria. The later has also piloted CBS for potato and maize value chain. Over 3,700 managers and members from over 600 producer organizations in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo have undergone CBS training. According to the first evaluation APO have access to bank loans, have more than doubled group sales of cocoa thanks to better quality and prices negotiated, members receive better inputs at lower prices from bulk procurement. In addition, trained APO increased in members. In some, cases smaller cooperatives merged for economies of scale and to conquer new buyers and off-taking agreements.

Authors: Mohamed salifou, Dr. Bernard Agbo, Dr. Annemarie Matthess

Views' Corner- Srivatsava Ganapathy

Views' Corner- Srivatsava Ganapathy

Srivatsava Ganapathy, President of Foretell Business Solutions Private Limited which owns, shares his views on Capacity building. 

1.        What are your thoughts on capacity building in the cashew sector?

It is very much needed in all three major areas – production of raw cashews, processing of raw cashews and value-addition of cashew kernels and by-products.

2.        Are you aware of capacity building programmes worthy to share?

Yes, there are so many. To begin with Comcashew’s initiative of Master Training Programme (MTP) is an extremely impactful programme to build capacity.I am also impressed with the concept of block level demonstration plot to demonstrate the impact of scientific practises on raw cashew yields in Vietnam. This structure has helped to increase yields levels in Vietnam substantially. The method involves direct interaction with farmers and also a fine blend of theory and practice.Likewise, the initiatives taken by Kerala Agricultural University to develop more than 20 products from cashew apple and to produce them every year with the help of Self-Help Group, is a great way to demonstrate the value-addition possibilities from cashew apple using local women groups. Recently, I also had an opportunity to visit the Cashew Training Institute (CITA) at Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire. It is a world class facility. I am sure that it would serve as a great model for the region to not only provide class-room based training on the nuances of cashew processing and food safety but also get a hands-on exposure to various latest machines/ technologies.

3.        What can be done to improve the effectiveness of capacity building in the cashew sector in short and medium term?

Technology can greatly enhance quality of learning of key concepts and their application. So, targeted education programmes can be developed and delivered through online / mobile and in the language of choice of the trainee. There is a great need to develop a global online university or learning management system that would make available best-practises across the cashew value-chain. Individual organisations can tap into such knowledge base to impart training on concepts to their staff on a regular basis. Learning by doing is another important aspect for the industry. Especially, as the industry is transitioning from manual to mechanised to automated processing. Internship can provide a great opportunity. Progressive companies including machinery / technology companies should be open to and offer internship programme. Also, more people at the junior level need to be trained, as it would get them motivated and also help in peer-to-peer learning. Alignment of incentives is another area which needs to be addressed so that industry adopts training and development as an integral part of their business. At present, some business owners fear that a trained resource might leave the company post-training and hence do not take the initiative of training.

4.        You recently organised the World Cashew Convention & Exhibition (WCCE) in February 2020 in Abidjan. How long have you been involved in WCC organisation?

World Cashew Convention & Exhibition has been in existence since 2015. The 2020 edition in Abidjan was co-organised by and Association of Cashew Exporters of Côte d’Ivoire with the support of Cotton and Cashew Nut Council, Côte d’Ivoire.

5.        In what ways do you think that the WCCE has contributed to the strengthening of capacities in the cashew sector.

WCCE has been able to bring out the needs – expressed needs and latent needs - of the industry. Thus, it provides the delegates (which includes several policy makers) clear insights into the aspects where focus has to be given. For instance, in WCCE 2016, there was a deliberation on the adverse impact of high moisture raw cashew cargo on the processor and end-consumer. Subsequently, various governments and associations in Africa have put in several systems in place to ensure that cargo is well-dried. Like-wise, there are many discussions on quality and food safety requirements of kernel buyers in Europe and USA. These requirements provide important inputs for redesigning process, layout as well as in training employees at processor level.  WCCE has built over the last six years, a very good repository of information and knowledge base that can be used as reference by the participants and incumbent of the cashew sector. Lastly, as we attend all major events in cashew sector, Cashewinfo brings out special publication, relevant to the region and to the interest of the targeted user group. For example, at WCCE 2020, Cashewinfo published a detailed note on the African cashew processing sector to enable European and US buyers to get in touch with them and help them export.

6.        What role does events such as the WCCE play in building capacities?

Events such as WCCE help in sharing knowledge and best practises through formal sessions as well as informal conversations. It enables collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas, plans and policies. It provides an opportunity to explore new way of doing things.

7.        How can knowledge sharing be further encouraged events such as WCCE?

A lot more can be done. Events should reach out to newer markets, bring in experts from universities and research institutions. Besides, it would be worth to bringing in external perspective also on key transformational aspects. For example, an expert from Information, Technology and Communication (ITC) industry on creating a global online repository of knowledge on cashew.

8.        What are some of the challenges you have encountered so far in the organization of the conference? And what challenges do you foresee in the future?

The expectation of the delegates has increased over the years. So, to meet and exceed their expectation is the primary challenge. This is only possible through continuous engagement with the delegates and through innovation.

9.        In your opinion, what can be done to encourage more women participation (as panellists, facilitators and participants as well) in learning and networking events?

In traditional sector such as cashews, women are far and few in leadership position, although the situation is changing in recent times. CasheWomen initiative aims at addressing building leadership capacity in cashew sector specifically.

WCCE believes that women leaders play an important part and are key to next phase of growth of the sector. As an ongoing initiative, we need to expand our database of women in various leadership roles across geographies in cashew sector. This would help us identify the right resource person. Secondly, women participation in conferences needs to be financially supported, at least partly. We are able to do it in some cases.

10.    Anything to add?

ComCashew has shown leadership in training, capacity building, enabling access to finance, gender sensitivity and women leadership and of late engaging with the governments to harmonise policies and programmes. The impact of all these initiatives are visible on the ground. I congratulate ComCashew for its path breaking initiatives and would be happy to continually support its initiatives through our publications and programmes.


Foretell Business Solutions Private Limited provide market information and market intelligence on global cashew industry and trade. Along with several leading associations across the world, the company organise the World Cashew Convention & Exhibition ( every year for the stakeholders to meet and shape the industry future. Besides, they also help industry members, governments and non-government agencies with specific consulting and advisory on technology selection, industry best-practises and human resource development. CasheWomen ( is a social initiative of along with key industry stakeholders.

Cashew Market Update – March 2020

Cashew Market Update – March 2020

They say that a crisis brings out the best and the worst in people. Maybe it is the same in markets. As I write the coronavirus continues to unfold all around us, I hope wherever you are that you stay safe.

At a time when demand for edible nuts is surging - housebound consumers in North America and Europe stock up on food and reward themselves with snacks - the cashew market has shown some of its worst traits.

First, the arriving West African crops are on hold as processors in Vietnam and India decide when will be the right time to enter the market. That means that West African farmers are depending on the management of the coronavirus risk in India and Vietnam even though at home in their own countries the virus is not yet a major issue. Will Vietnamese factories close? Does a lockdown in India mean that RCN purchases will come to a halt? Meantime consumers in destination markets are crying out for more supply of food products and edible nuts in particular. As the US food manufacturers association FMI pointed out, this is not a demand crisis it is a supply chain crisis. Second, it has been pointed out here more than once that the high dependence on supply from one processing country – the US purchased 86% of its cashew kernels from Vietnam in 2019 – will eventually give rise to a major problem. Today, coronavirus is not a major problem in Vietnam but many businesses are closed or working at reduced capacity to manage the risk that it might become one. If it becomes a major problem in Vietnam, consumers from Warsaw to Wichita will not be able to access the supply of cashew kernels. More tragically the poorest stakeholders, the farm families in West Africa, will not be able to sell their cashew nuts.

Third, West African countries are not well-positioned to manage the slowdown in RCN sales and shipments. There are not enough drying and storage facilities nor enough mechanisms to finance the crop in a crisis. The losses at the production and post-harvest level may be more damaging than the direct damage done to the demand by the coronavirus crisis.  The cashews falling from the trees in the coming days and weeks are still valuable and will have a value after the crisis has passed but only if they can be dried and stored well.    

Finally, rationality has left the building. The response of cashew processors and importers to the major surge in demand, the potential supply chain disruption, the return of China to the market and the prospect of crop losses in India and Cambodia has been to knock kernels prices down to prices last seen in October 2009 circa WW320 US$2.90-2.95 per lb FOB.  

The season had promised so much. Crops in almost all origins are looking good although there may be a problem in India with a late crop which often means that it will be reduced in size too. The demand is looking very good too. EU imports for 2019 were up by 17.5% and for January 2020 by 10%. The US and Canada imported a record of 170,389 tonnes of cashew kernels in 2019. US imports in January are up 21% over January 2019. Vietnams 2020 exports of cashew kernels until 15th March are up by 12% by volume. The market had fallen from the euphoric high of 2017 to a price for WW320 in the range US$3.20- 3.40 per lb FOB offering great value to buyers and the likelihood of prices improving as the year went on. The record crop forecast for 2020 looked likely to be absorbed without too much trouble. Even the Tanzanian old crop and the current crop had been exported down to the last 7,000 tonnes.  

Where to next? It depends largely on the measures if any put in place in Vietnam which has been successful in limiting the virus so far and India which appears vulnerable to the coronavirus crisis. The closure of the Cambodian border will be difficult for Cambodian cashew farmers to bear but it would deprive the Vietnamese processors of 150,000 tonnes of raw material less any volume that enters Vietnam undocumented. If Vietnamese processing stays operational (there are a lot of “ifs” these days) demand for RCN from West Africa should emerge within weeks.  The picture from India is even less clear. Moves to curtail the crisis have come into play in some areas this week. Some of the most affected areas are major cashew producers like Maharashtra and Karnataka. Processing has been reduced and buying from farmers is affected.There may be further crop losses as a result. However, the most serious impact of the coronavirus crisis in India and the World would be if Indian demand were to be seriously reduced. Simulations indicate that a 30% fall in Indian demand could reduce their RCN import needs in 2020 from 870,000 tonnes to as little as 430,000 tonnes. Let us not forget however that demand peaks in the second half of the year especially early in the last quarter by which time the crisis should have passed.Let us not forget however that demand peaks in the second half of the year especially early in the last quarter by which time the crisis should have passed.Let us not forget however that demand peaks in the second half of the year especially early in the last quarter by which time the crisis should have passed.

Demand in the Western markets looks less vulnerable due to the nature of the supply chains. Recent surges in demand are forecast to last 6 – 8 weeks. After that, there may be a return to normal demand. If the crisis were to continue past June there could be consequences for demand due to a severe economic downturn. There is no experience of a similar event although during the financial crisis of 2008 the interruption to demand was limited.

Cashew Market

From the West African perspective, the markets are confused through lack of good information and the sheer shock of seeing what is unfolding. It is essential to recognise that the demand for cashew kernels is not collapsing. If anything, it is increasing.  There may be disruptions to the supply chain. It may be that in some countries the crops will be reduced or lost. It is fairly certain that there will be good demand for RCN and cashew kernels. The challenge is to be ready to meet demand for RCN when it picks up which could be in a few weeks. In order not to lose the harvest it should be dried and stored and ready for processing because Vietnam and India will run out of RCN within 3-4 months which means they must buy within 2-3 months.

There have been concerns about workers in cashew factories and rightly so. However, a well-run, food safe cashew factory with washing facilities and uniforms could be the safest place to be. In some countries, factories have reduced capacity in order to implement social distancing among staff but they have not closed. Processors would be well advised to take professional advice and governments would be well advised to support them in doing so. This crisis could be the best opportunity to demonstrate that African cashew processors offer a viable alternative to the high dependence of buyers on one origin. In January 2020 86% of US cashew kernels imports came from Vietnam. Vietnam has not yet suffered the worst of the COVID19. We hope very much that they will not but if they do cashew kernel supplies for Europe and the USA would be decimated.Has there ever been a clearer argument for diversifying buying ?

The market has moved from a situation where supply and demand were forecast to be well-matched. The market was expected to move into the next phase after the crash from 2017 but it has entered a position of uncertainty. Some reassurance can be taken from the emergence of China from the crisis but there is a  long way to go. The cashew market is not well served with information normally. In times of crisis, it is essential to have access to the facts. Make sure that your information is accurate and comes from reliable sources before making decisions. Avoid the irrational thinking that is so common in markets at present.  Above all follow the guidelines to control the spread and remember we are all in this together.

Author: Jim Fitzpatrick

The Cashew Club

Burkimbila Award Ceremony in Oua-gadougou: GIZ/ComCashew re-ceived the Agriculture Prize

Burkimbila Award Ceremony in Oua-gadougou: GIZ/ComCashew re-ceived the Agriculture Prize

On February 29, 2020, the fourth edition of Nuit de reconnaissance was held at the banquet hall of Ouaga 2000. The theme of the night was: “What is the youth contributing to an emerging Burkina Faso”. This edition was marked by the award of awards and trophies to selected entities.
The event is held each year and is organized by the Burkimbila Association.

The association is made up of young people who have undertaken, for the past four years, to honor and mark their acknowledgment of associations, projects, programmes and entities that work to promote the youth, peace, social cohesion and togetherness in Burkina Faso.
This year, the event’s patron was M. Salifo Tiemtore, Minister for Youth and Promotion of Youth Entrepreneurship.
In recognition for its activities in promoting the youth and women in the cashew sector, the Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew) was nominated in the “Special Agriculture Trophies” categories by its line Ministry, the Ministry of Agriculture and Hydro-Agricultural Development (MAAH) through its Directorate for the Promotion of Rural Economy.

GIZ/ComCashew dedicates this trophy to all stakeholders of the cashew value chain!

Author: Roseline Kere, Finanace and Administration officer—GIZ/ComCashew

The 2020 Cashew marketing campaign kicks off in Burkina Faso

The 2020 Cashew marketing campaign kicks off in Burkina Faso

Under the theme “Sustainable development of the cashew sector in Burkina: Regulatory Challenges and way forward”, the 2020 Cashew marketing campaign was launched in Burkina Faso. Just as in previous years, several stakeholders were present during the
ceremony on Saturday 29th February 2020. This year, the city of Orodara, commonly dubbed “the orchard city of Burkina Faso”, was chosen to host the ceremony. Following the welcoming address by the Mayor of Orodara, various speeches were given by:

  • The Patron, M. Kalifa Traoré, Secretary General of the Ministry for National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages. 
  • The co-patron, Zignodo dite Salimata Konaté/Ouattara, Member of Parliament, Chair of the Commission for Gender, Social Action and Health
  • Mrs. Minata Koné, Chairperson of the Interprofesionnal Cashew Committee of Burkina Faso (CIA/B) that established the minimum price of raw cashew nuts at FCFA 330
  • The campaign was launched by the Minister for Trade, Industry and handicraft, M. Harouna Kaboré. The export tax was maintained (FCFA 25/kg) and the government will support and supervise CIAB in establishing the CFO (Contribution forfaitaire obligatoire). In essence, M. Kaboré reaffirmed the will of the State to keep guiding the management of monies charged during the past two years (2018 and 2019). Among other measures, the Minister confirmed the operationalization of the mobile brigade in cashew producing areas to ensure compliance with economic regulations.

M. Kaboré, Ministry of Commerce In Burkina | Source : GIZ/ComCashew   

The launching ceremony ended with a visit to the Diéri small-scale processing site.

Author: ViViane Alima M’boutiki, Human Capacity Development/Gender Expert—GIZ/ComCashew

Views Corner: Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET)

Views Corner: Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET)

The Competitive Cashew initiative (GIZ/ComCashew), in collaboration with the Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI) and with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) organised two editions of an upskilling programme on cashew for about 200 Training Providers from 13 Agriculture, Technical and Vocational Institutes in the various regions in Ghana to enhance their knowledge on the cashew crop. The main objective of the programme was to ensure that tutors from Agricultural Training Institutes are equipped with the requisite knowledge and capacities in cashew value chain.

Two participants: Vera Sarfo Danso and Francis Emmanuel Awortwi from the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies, Bunso, share their experiences from the training programme and their thoughts on capacity strengthening in the cashew sector: 

1.       What are your thoughts on capacity building in the cashew sector?

Vera: Cashew has become a very important cash crop at both local and international levels and as a country who is seeking to expand the cashew industry, raising a generation with competencies in cashew production and processing will go a long way to affect the system positively, hence, organizing capacity building in this sector is very relevant.

Francis: I think it’s very useful for all the stakeholders along the value chain mostly to improve the productivity and profitability of the cashew industry.

2.       Are you aware of capacity building programs? If yes kindly share it with us.

Vera: I'm aware of capacity building programs, mostly in Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET) organized by Ghana Skills Development Initiative in the mango and oil palm value chains. I have personally taken part int these upskilling trainings.

Francis: I’m also aware of the same capacity building programmes in oil palm and also mango value chains.

3.       What can be done to improve the effectiveness of capacity building in the cashew sector in short and medium term?

Vera: On both terms, more Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET) programs should be organized for trainers and should have more practical sessions and linkage to industry. Cashew farmers can also be organized and/or trained on-field on the good management practices to ensure their active participation and adoption of what they are learn.

Francis: I think more training programmes especially for trainers along the value chain and the provision of tools and equipment for training institutions will ensure the effectiveness of capacity building in the sector.

4.       In what way do you think the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET) upskilling training programme on cashew has contributed to the strengthening of capacity in the cashew sector?

Vera: All trainees who qualified during that session are bearers of a certificate that proves that they can train others in cashew production and processing. Trainees from that session have gained competencies and this will be passed on to others, that is a major achievement.

Francis: It has provided more knowledge and understanding of the cashew value chain and how to improve productivity. Moreover, we as training providers have acquired useful practical skills for training along the value chain. Knowledge, understanding, and skills acquired are also contributing to teaching and learning of other tree crops.

5.       What role does trainings such as the Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET) play in building capacities?

Vera: The major role here is that it gives trainees the needed skills and competencies. Agricultural Technical and Vocational Education Training (ATVET) programs are competency-based and giving someone the hands-on skills certainly builds their capacities to a large extent.

Francis: They fill an important gap in continuous professional development and technical upskilling which are often not forthcoming in the educational sector.

6.       Anything else you want to add?

Vera & Francis: The training programme is also a good opportunity for networking at the individual, professional, and institutional levels.


GIZ/ComCashew & GSDI reinforce the capacity of over 100 Agriculture Training Providers on cashew in Ghana

GIZ/ComCashew & GSDI reinforce the capacity of over 100 Agriculture Training Providers on cashew in Ghana

The Competitive Cashew initiative (GIZ/ComCashew), in collaboration with the Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI) with support from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) has organised an upskilling programme on cashew for some 131 Training Providers from Agriculture, Technical and Vocational Institutes in the various regions in Ghana to enhance their knowledge on the cashew crop. The training took place at the Eusbett Hotel in Sunyani in the Bono region of Ghana.

The first edition, which took place from Monday 10th February to Friday 14th February 2020, saw the participation of 71 Training Providers in the week-long programme. The second edition came off between 9th and 13th March 2020 for some 60 participants.

The main objective of the programme was to transfer knowledge on cashew to the training providers in order to increase their capacity. These Training Providers were from 13 institutions across the country namely: Adidome Farm Institute, Comboni Technical & Vocational Institute, Ho Technical University, Kpando Technical Institute, Father Dogli Memorial Technical Institute, Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Assemblies of God Technical University, Asuansi Farm Institute, Asuansi Technical Institute, Wenchi Farm Institute, and University College of Agriculture and Environmental Studies.

Theoretical and practical approaches were employed in the delivery of the training content. Participants were educated on topics ranging from new cashew plantation establishment, improved planting material production, cashew breeding, rehabilitation of old plantation, pest and disease management and Good Agricultural Practices. On processing, participants learnt about cashew apple, nut and shell processing, and marketing. They were also taken through processing equipment selection, operation and maintenance.

The Training Providers tried their hands at grafting of seedlings and cashew apple processing at the Wenchi research station and the Wenchi Farm Institute. Other practical sessions were on determining the quality of cashew and Kernel Outturn Ration measurement among other things.

Resource persons included crop scientists and entomologists from key research institutions, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and experienced cashew industry players. Dignitaries present at the events include the Director of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) - Mr. Seth Osei Akoto, the Municipal Chief Executive for Sunyani -Honourable Justina Owusu-Banahene and the leadership of GIZ/ComCashew and GSDI.

Développement de la filière anacarde en Afrique: Une centaine d’experts africains en formation à Abidjan

Développement de la filière anacarde en Afrique: Une centaine d’experts africains en formation à Abidjan

L’Afrique est la première région productrice et exportatrice de noix de cajou dans le monde, avec la Côte d’Ivoire comme pays leader. Cependant, la filière anacarde souffre d’un manque d’experts qui devront travailler pour sa pérennité et son développement.
C’est pour répondre à cette problématique que l’Initiative du cajou compétitif (Giz/ComCashew), en collaboration avec l’Alliance du cajou africain (Aca) et soutenue par le Conseil du coton et de l’anacarde de Côte d’Ivoire, met en œuvre depuis 2013 un grand programme de formation dit des maîtres formateurs qui en est maintenant à sa 10e édition. La première session de cette édition s’est ouverte le 24 février à l’hôtel Belle Côte à la Riviera.
Michel Kouassi, qui a représenté le ministère de l’Agriculture et du Développement rural, a insisté sur le fait que le besoin de formation est réel et les résultats de la présente session sont impatiemment attendus par les autorités ivoiriennes.

Les participants à la session de formation viennent de neuf pays africains et de l’Allemagne. (Dr)

En lire plus: Développement de la filière anacarde en Afrique: Une centaine d’experts africains en formation à Abidjan 

Noix de cajou : Comcashew invite les pays producteurs à mettre en commun leurs expériences






Ivorian Cashew Investment Day – Salon International de l’Agriculture Paris 2020

Ivorian Cashew Investment Day – Salon International de l’Agriculture Paris 2020

Côte d'Ivoire has projected a harvest of more than 800,000 MT of cashew this season, again reinforcing the West African country's position as the world's largest producer of raw cashew nuts. A number that is more than just a statistic, but stands for numerous development opportunities for the country: creation of jobs in production and especially processing, value addition along the value chain, climate resilience and adaptation and above all a source of investment into the local economy.

To attract such investment, the Ivorian government used its presence at the international Agricultural Fair in Paris (SIA) to organize a "Cashew Day" at its pavilion at the exhibition on February 24.

"There is no other agricultural sector that is receiving as much public attention from the government as the cashew sector in Ivory Coast”, said Dr. Adama Coulibaly, Director General of the Cotton and Cashew Council (CCA). According to the DG, the political will is there, and it is a national goal to increase value addition in the cashew sector. To this end, many political measures, incentives and support programmes are being undertaken.

Dr. Coulibaly, used the occasion to announce a set of incentives earmarked for the establishment of processing companies, such as the creation of industrial zones with tax breaks, reduction of import duties on processing machines and subsidies for local processing.

“Côte d’Ivoire has proven to the world that it can produce, now we have to show you that we can also add value”.

The kernel subsidy alone, which was introduced in 2016 (local processors receive 400FCA/kg kernels processed in CIV), has so far amounted to more than 8 billion FCFA. According to CCA, by 2023 Ivory coast will be highly visible on the kernel market, due to the efforts currently being made to add more than 20 processing plants to already existing ones.

Together with a representative from Mali and Senegal, as well as an international researcher, Dr. Coulibaly reinforced the need for cross-country cooperation in the cashew sector. The Consultative International Cashew Council (CICC) plays a special role in this regard: founded in 2016, the CICC now has 11 member countries, a registered office in Abidjan and has recently appointed its first Secretary General. This organization, will coordinate all producing countries and has the objective promote relations and policy dialogue between producing countries to boost the sector at the African level and beyond.

As a development partner, GIZ-ComCashew has accompanied the CCA (and previously ARECA) in the past decade and is committed to enhance the cooperation, especially with regards to the promotion of local value addition, access to international markets and strengthening of cashew networks and exchanges. The Director General expressed that he is appreciation for this cooperation and support from ComCashew and is confident that we can together achieve our shared objective: to make the cashew sector competitive.

Since its inception in 1964, SIA has been the rendez-vous of the French agricultural sector and every year thousands of visitors and experts attend the week-long fair.  In addition to exhibitions on French agriculture, the world is also a guest in Paris and every year, African countries also have the honor of presenting and promoting their agricultural sector.



GIZ Com Cashew to assist revive 7 defunct cashew companies.

GIZ Com Cashew to assist revive 7 defunct cashew companies.

The GIZ Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew), an international development project in the cashew value chain, has renewed its commitment to holistic transformation of Ghana’s cashew sub-sector.

To this end, the organisation is in the process of assisting the revival of seven defunct cashew processing companies in the country to boost competitiveness in the value addition space. Of the13 existing cashew processing factories in the country, with total production capacity of about 65,000 metric tonnes, only two are currently in operation: the rest have all shut down. 

Financial constraints, obsolete machinery and processing technology, as well as lack of access to substantial quantities of raw cashew nuts (RCNs) at a competitive price have culminated in collapse of the factories. Even with two which are currently in business, they [USIBRAS Ghana Limited in Prampram, and Mim Cashew and Agricultural Products Ltd.] are producing below installed capacities.

Read more: GIZ Com Cashew to assist revive 7 defunct cashew companies.

Ghana earned $378 million from the sale of 110 tonnes of raw cashew nuts in 2018.

Ghana earned $378 million from the sale of 110 tonnes of raw cashew nuts in 2018.

The amount represented 43 per cent of the total revenue obtained from non-traditional export commodities in the country.

The Director of Crop Services of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Seth Osei-Akoto, announced this at the opening of a one-week technical upscaling development training programme on cashew value chain promotion in Sunyani yesterday.Seventy-two participants, made up of tutors from agriculture training institutions in Ghana are taking part in the training programme to ensure that they acquire the right knowledge in order to pass it on to potential trainees who enrol in their institutions.

The training was organised by Competitive Cashew Initiative (GIZ/ComCashew), in collaboration with the Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI), with support from the MoFA.

Read more: Ghana earned $378 million from the sale of 110 tonnes of raw cashew nuts in 2018.

L'année électorale semble profiter aux producteurs de noix de cajou en Côte d'Ivoire

L'année électorale semble profiter aux producteurs de noix de cajou en Côte d'Ivoire

La campagne 2020 de commercialisation des noix de cajou en Côte d'Ivoire ouvre aujourd'hui, a-t-il été décidé hier en Conseil des ministres. Le prix minimum obligatoire d'achat bord champ est augmenté de 25 francs le kilo, le portant à FCFA 400 pour la campagne 2020.

Parallèlement, le gouvernement resserre le contrôle aux frontières afin d'éviter "la fuite des noix de cajou par les frontières terrestres". A cette fin, le Conseil du Coton et de l’Anacarde est autorisé "à prendre des mesures de lutte contre les exportations frauduleuses, allant jusqu’à la saisie et à la vente immédiate des produits saisis" et le ministère de la Justice doit mettre en œuvre "des procédures d’urgence" pour sanctionner "la commercialisation et l’exportation illicites".

En lire plus: L'année électorale semble profiter aux producteurs de noix de cajou en Côte d'Ivoire (par COMMODAFRICA)

Lorenz Snack-World newest member of SNI

Lorenz Snack-World newest member of SNI

Lorenz Snack-World has become a member of the Sustainable Nut Initiative (SNI). SNI, a member of the ComCashew board, brings key players in the nut industry together to strategically develop sustainable supply chains and a traceable nut sector. SNI’s members are committed to improve the transparency in the nut chain, strengthening the relationship with farmer cooperatives and working towards volume and quality improvement.Image result for lorenz snack world

Read more: Lorenz Snack-World newest member of SNI

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: PhD and Masters Scholarship

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS: PhD and Masters Scholarship

The Resilience Against Climate Change (REACH) project, is inviting applications for PhD and Masters studies under a five-year project, “REACH-Social Transformation Research and Policy Advocacy”. Funded by the European Union, the project is a research collaboration between the International Water Management Institute, University of Ghana-Centre for Migration Studies, University for Development Studies and CSIR-Science and Technology Policy Research Institute. Over the course of the project, we expect to support a total of 3 PhDs and 15 Masters (first batch of 10; second batch of 5) with full studentships for four and two years respectively. All the students will follow the stipulated training procedure of the host Universities, with joint supervision across project collaborating organisations. In addition, the students will participate in policy advocacy events (e.g. workshops, learning events and policy dialogues), with the aim of bridging research and policy, through students’ direct involvement in the narratives, practices and networks of development planning. 

Eligibility Applicants will be required to meet the general admission requirements of University for Development Studies or University of Ghana, depending on where they intend to study. Applicants must have applied to any of the two Universities for the 2020/2021 academic year.  In addition to the general requirements, applicants should preferably have a background in social science research and methodological skills. However, suitable students with any relevant disciplinary background can be considered. Applicants must: 

  • Hold a relevant degree (i.e. First Degree for persons applying for the Masters and Masters Degree for those applying for PhD) in social science/humanities related discipline(s). Particularly (but not limited to), Geography, Development Planning Studies, Migration Studies, Agricultural Extension, Agricultural Economics, Climate Change, Rural Development Sociology, Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science.
  • Be highly motivated to pursue postgraduate studies according to the approved study plan of the Universities involved

Award of scholarship is subject to gaining admission to the University of Ghana or University for Development Studies during the stipulated academic year. The scholarship covers:   

  • Full tuition fees
  • Full research costs towards thesis
  • Monthly stipend to cover living expenses in Ghana 

This research component is part of the overall REACH project, jointly implemented with GIZ/ComCashew. You can read more here .