WEST AFRICA – TechchnoServe, an international non-profit organization has received two grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support the development of the cashew sector in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria.
The support will enable the expansion of the BeninCajù project in Benin and launch of the new Prosper Cashew program in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, which will help drive change across this important value chain, benefitting thousands of farmers and others employed in the sector.
According to TechnoServe, the five-year Promoting Opportunities for Cashew Processing in West Africa (Prosper Cashew) will help processors, equipment manufacturers, and other value chain actors access working capital and other funding through the new Cashew Catalyst Fund and a match-making facility with investors.
The program will also provide technical assistance to the participants, helping to build the capacity of businesses across the cashew value chain.
Its main target is to improve the capacity of 60 processors who source cashews from 34,000 farmers; facilitate US$497 million of investment in the cashew sector; and generate US$1.5 billion of cashew kernel sales.
“With improved production and value addition from local processing, the cashew sector presents an enormous opportunity to create better livelihoods across West Africa.
“We are very excited to expand our partnership with USDA, which has already delivered transformative impact for thousands of farmers, workers, and other women and men involved in the cashew value chain,” said William Warshauer, president and CEO of TechnoServe.
Meanwhile for the BeninCajù program, it will pilot and scale new technology and help roll out improved and certified cashew varieties in Benin that will lead to higher yields and greater profitability.
Since launching in 2015, the program has supported more than 75,000 farmers to earn US$79 million in sales of raw cashew nut, while helping the country’s cashew processing sector triple its capacity and generate more than 2,000 jobs.
With an extension through 2023, the program will scale efforts to use remote-sensing technology like drones, coupled with machine learning, to identify where cashew plantations are located and which farmers need agronomy training.
Further to that, it will deliver training content remotely through mobile phones and massive open online courses (MOOCs); and develop a mobile application to allow cashew buyers to more easily determine the quality of cashew nuts, among other innovations.
West Africa is the world’s leader in cashew production, accounting for more than 45% of the raw cashew nuts harvested around the globe each year.
However, the sector still holds significant untapped potential for national economies, farmers, and workers.
Farmers’ incomes are limited by poor linkages to profitable markets, as well as low yields and difficulty accessing agronomy training.
Meanwhile, just 10% of the region’s cashews are processed within West Africa; the rest are exported raw to Asia, where they are processed before being sent to consumer markets around the world.
As a result, the region is missing an opportunity to bolster its economy: a TechnoServe analysis estimated that West African countries would earn an additional US$422 million annually and generate 500,000 jobs if half the region’s raw cashews were processed locally.
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