Increasing yields, meeting quality standards

There is a very high demand for cashew nuts. Much of the crop comes from Africa, where cashew nut farmers are struggling to survive on low incomes. But that’s about to change.

African Cashew Initiative

The African Cashew Initiative (ACi) is supported by a group of financial backers which includes Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, seven private-sector companies and national governments. It aims to help cashew farmers in Africa become more competitive.
Nearly 40 per cent of the global cashew crop is produced by around 1.5 million small farmers in Africa, mainly West Africa. Due to the poor quality of the nuts, low productivity and a lack of organisation, however, these farmers earn very low incomes. What’s more, less than 5 per cent of the crop is actually processed in Africa.

Through the African Cashew Initiative, launched in 2009, GIZ is implementing a project in five countries which provides advice and training for producers. The aim is to help the farmers increase their yields and meet international quality standards. So far, these measures have benefited more than 240,000 farmers, whose combined incomes have increased by USD 5 million, rising to USD 30 million annually after 2015. These farmers are now persuaded of the benefits of joint marketing. The project has also liaised between the farmers and local processing companies, where 3,100 new jobs have been created, mainly for women.

The project, implemented by GIZ in conjunction with three international partners, also shows how innovative technologies can benefit the poorest social groups. It adopts a mix of strategies. For example, under the project, a cashew farmers’ cooperative in western Ghana is trialling software developed by SAP, which is designed to increase transparency and efficiency along the cashew value chain. So how does it work? With the SAP application, members of the cooperative can now scan sacks of cashews delivered by farmers with a smartphone and record the weight on the phone under the name of the farmer supplying the cashews. Until now, records of the quantity of cashews supplied to cooperatives by each farmer were kept manually. Digital technology makes it easier for the managing director of the cooperative to track how many kilos each farmer has sold to the cooperative. Using the same software, he can also manage stock and plan when to send a truck to the processing plant. It’s a good example of how state-of-the-art technology is achieving notable successes in reducing poverty.

On behalf of
and on behalf of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


Rita Weidinger