Improved productivity and increased trade in cashew products in Senegal and The Gambia.
The Cashew Value Chain Enhancement Project 2 (CEP 2) was the second phase of a USDA/FFPR-funded program implemented by IRD/Blumont. The program built on capacities built in phase one and targeted smallholder farmers who had mature plantations, as well as farmers interested in establishing plantations. Although cashew production traditionally favors men, CEP 2 engaged women and youth in all aspects of the program to strengthen their capacities and highlight their roles in cashew production. Women were involved in plantation management, collection, processing and marketing of raw cashew and cashew apple products, while youth assisted with plantation management.
The program improved agricultural productivity by identifying and promoting farming best practices, including the use of improved cashew varieties and employing live fencing to protect plantations. Through the establishment of farmer field-schools, the program offered interactive sessions covering a wide range of topics, including cultivation best practices, quality control in nut collection and storage, value chain management, business recordkeeping, business analysis and planning, and marketing options. In addition, CEP 2 provided training in food processing hygiene standards, business management tools and quality control measures. Beyond offering knowledge, training sessions and interventions also supported the establishment of a network of tree nurseries and seed farms that offered the best varieties of seedlings as well as expertise in pruning and tree management.
Drawing from the significant trade potential of cashew, CEP 2 also helped increase quality production of processed cashew products. New to the second phase was the establishment of a guarantee fund loan program to assist processors in accessing capital to purchase raw nuts in the open market. Expanding on the program’s first phase, phase two also continued to provide improved cashew processing equipment and trained processors in the two levels of processing, steaming and cutting nuts (level 1) and drying, peeling and grading nuts (level 2). In addition, using models established in the first phase, CEP 2 investigated methods for integrating flexible, home-based processing models as well as micro-scale processing units. Through the introduction of innovation challenge grants, productive uses of cashew byproduct, such as the cashew apple and cashew shell, were found.
Finally, to support informed decision-making, CEP 2 worked with all cashew stakeholders to develop a market information system with an SMS and radio broadcast messaging component to provide data on production levels, historical prices, cashew producing zones, and potential for expansion. CEP 2 also worked to facilitate local and regional cashew trade by hosting marketing forums, attending trade fairs, and worked to help establish an inter-professional cashew association.