BCD: Stakeholders called to form strategic partnerships

Benin Cashew Day (BCD) has commenced in Cotonou, Benin, with a call on stakeholders of the African cashew industry to synergise and form strategic partnerships for the benefit of the continent’s industry.

President of the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), Mr. Babatola Faseru, made this call Tuesday, 22 February 2022, in his speech at the opening ceremony of the three-day event.

He believed forming strategic partnerships has become necessary due to the growing dependence of the global industry on Africa for raw cashew nuts (RCNs).

“…as the global demand for cashew increases, I believe partnerships, strategic partnerships are necessary if the actors within the country must succeed first, before engaging with others. I, therefore, use this opportunity, to call on us all, farmers, processors, buyers, exporters, financial institutions, development and technical partners, lawmakers, regulatory agencies, the Government, and the list goes on, to align ourselves and synergize for the benefit of the sector in our countries, internally and the continent at large” he said.

Currently, despite producing about 57% of global raw cashew nuts, Africa’s processing rate remains insignificant, with less than 10% of production processed locally. This low processing rate, among other challenges, has left the continent’s cashew sector largely underdeveloped.

Mr Faseru therefore invited major stakeholders to take advantage of the gathering to discuss measures that will ensure growth in local processing, including research and favourable policies.

“Promoting RCN quality enhancement via research, harvest, and post-harvest techniques, advocating for favourable environment and policies to encourage local processing and consumption are some of the reasons why we continuously need such gatherings where the knowledge and experiences are easily shared,” he stated.

ACA’s Commitment

While calling for intercontinental partnerships to develop the African cashew industry, he highlighted the need for proper stakeholder collaboration at the local, national, and regional levels in Africa, indicating the need for proper organisation and engagement in the form of events like the Benin Cashew Day. 

According to him, the ACA remains committed to achieving its vision of building an African cashew industry that is viable and globally competitive and is hence open for collaboration with development partners and organisations to achieve this goal.

He said his outfit will continue to provide the needed technical support and market information needed for a viable cashew industry in the continent and also facilitate stakeholder engagement through the formation and proper functioning of stakeholder associations in the various cashew producing countries.

The ACA, he revealed, will support the organisation of similar events at the various cashew producing countries across Africa.

“It is our duty as the industry Alliance to ensure the cashew sector in Africa is well organized and so we call on your support. It will not end in Benin. We will be extending the support to other cashew producing countries in Africa in the form of such activity as a “Cashew Day” where diverse players are brought from outside and within Africa to impact knowledge, share experiences which is in a way contributing to the capacity development of the industry,” he revealed. 

He said the ACA will “continue to provide our online sharing forums such as the Global Market Encounters with Jim Fitzpatrick, a fortnightly forum on global markets issues, the Cashew Technical Series with Shakti Pal, a technical forum for processors and soon to begin the ACA Policy Roundtable, which will routinely bring together key actors from both the public and private sectors to discuss existing policies in the respective countries and map the way forward”.

The 16th edition of the ACA annual Cashew Conference to be held in Abuja, Nigeria from 12th – 16th September, 2022, according to Mr Faseru, will be a platform for stakeholders and experts of the industry to deliberate and share knowledge on strengthening cashew kernel and by product marketing to ensure sustainability. 

“This is a subject we should all be gravitating towards considering that today, our continent is the number one producer accounting for over 50% of the world’s production however with less than 10% of cashew processing in Africa. Come, let’s deliberate together on the way forward for our continent,” he said.

Benin government’s commitment

Meanwhile the government of the Republic of Benin, through its sector Ministers, has expressed commitment to supporting the Benin cashew industry, and by extension the African industry to develop, and industrialise.  

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Benin Cashew Day Tuesday, Benin’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fishery, Gaston DOSSOUHOUI, said the Benin government is working to put the right infrastructure in place to support the growth of the sector.

He said the government was committed to addressing the challenges of the sector in Benin. Identifying proper warehouses as a challenge for most cashew farmers and traders, he said the government is working to construct more warehouses across the country.

He added that the government will also create the right environment needed for the local processing of cashew in the country, including supporting the construction and operationalisation of modernised cashew factories.

“It is the ambition of the government to process almost all RCNs. However, the installed capacity remains very low. The government is therefore working at establishing modern and mechanised factories to increase local processing,” he indicated.

On her part, the Minister of Industry and Commerce reiterated the Benin government’s commitment to encouraging local cashew processing, adding that her outfit will work hand in hand with the Agricultural ministry to create the right conditions for local processing.

This, she said will go a long way to increase the fortunes of many people, through job creation and income generation in the country. 

Benin Cashew Day is an event organised by the National Council of Cashew Exporters of Benin (CoNEC) and the Interprofession of Cashew Sector of Benin (IFA-Benin) in partnership with the ACA that brings together stakeholders of the cashew industry in Benin and beyond together to reflect on the marketing of cashew in Benin, as well discuss other important industry issues.

This year’s edition, the third, is around the theme, “Building strategic partnership for an efficient cashew sector in Africa”.