ACA Partner Highlight: The African Cashew Initiative

The African Cashew Initiative (ACi) -

Innovative Delivery Methods of Addressing the Challenges in the Cashew Sector

By Rita Weidinger, Executive Director GIZ/ACi

ACi together with private and public partners focuses on organizing and building a sustainable African cashew sector to reduce poverty. To date, the initiative has supported more than 400,000 cashew farmers to add at least US$ 600 to their annual family income. ACi is active in five project countries namely, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Mozambique. 

Key challenges for the African cashew value chains remain the low productivity of 250 to 700kg/ha; and the high costs for in-country processing. With changing power relations in the cashew value chain, the market linkages become more important for all players, with high potential for producers.

Thus, ACi aims at increasing raw cashew nut production, productivity and quality and also increase the quantity and quality of African cashew kernel and cashew by-product processing. The initiative further targets establishing and expanding sustainable links to the global market place and advocate policies that favor cashew production and processing.

In 2015 ACi and its partners saw tremendous progress towards the realization of its vision: over 400,000 farmers were fully trained on two different topics, of which 22 % were women. To date, these farmers cumulatively earn an additional net income of $120 million. Also, cashew processing in Africa increased from 3% to about 10% since the beginning of the project in 2009, though processors in the last two seasons faced heavy competition with RCN buyers. As a result, few processors across West Africa had to shut down processing operations temporally but were however still engaged in trading, while most of them run below capacity. About 5,800 direct employments were created in the processing factories alone; women were the biggest beneficiaries taking up 75% of the total number of jobs created with accumulated wages of US$ 3.6 million in all 5 project countries.

ACi has since received a general commitment from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to enter a third project phase continuing in May 2016. Other funding partners – IDH and EU/ACP secretariat – intend to support the joint vision too.

With the expected funding support from new partners, all is set for the take-off of the third phase of the initiative with an added component of promoting the nutritional and health benefits of cashew. ACA is a member of the Board of ACi and works closely with them in the development of the cashew industry and is excited to further collaboration in 2016.