ACA Exchange Trip Explores Potential of Cashew Apple Juice Processing
Every year, millions of tons of cashew apples go to waste throughout Africa, as farmers and processors lack the necessary expertise and equipment to take advantage of the opportunity the cashew apple represents.
In late March, ACA experts partnered with International Relief and Development (IRD) to facilitate a trip to Ghana and Benin focused on cashew apple processing. The goal of the trip was to develop understanding of technology options available and food safety management systems in larger-scale processing operations as well as to exchange experiences with cashew apple processors in Benin and Ghana. Seven participants from Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau (six of them women) visited juice co-operatives in Benin, the Mim Cashew Brandy plant in Ghana, the Blue Skies juice factory, and an Italian juice processing equipment manufacturer based in Ghana.
The participants had the opportunity to ask questions about cashew apple juice processing and packaging and discuss best practices from experienced processors. In particular, participants learned of the importance of advanced food safety and hygiene systems as well as potential strategies for sourcing packaging materials and the cashew fruits themselves. Several pieces of equipment were purchased and brought back to the participants’ home countries. This was a valuable opportunity for knowledge sharing across West Africa in a field with significant potential for income generation.
One participant, Kelly Smeets, said the following: “The exchange trip has really encouraged us to venture more in exploring the use of cashew apple and bring it to a higher level. The women groups we visited in Benin were well advanced in the quality aspect and entrepreneurial spirit. We concluded that with the support of basic equipment and packaging material the women of the Gambia River Basin will be able to generate a lot of income through the processing of cashew apple.”