African Cashew Initiative awarded OECD-DAC prize

30.03.2016 – By improving the income of farmers in five countries in Africa this innovative approach is having a broad impact and has earned the recognition of the DAC jury.

With its ‘Taking Development Innovation to Scale’ prize, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recognises organisations that take innovative development projects beyond the pilot phase to achieve broader impact.

The African Cashew Initiative (ACi), founded seven years ago, is coordinated by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The key target groups are smallholders, processors, buyers and state institutions along with national and regional stakeholder platforms and associations. Working closely together with national governments and national and international partners from the private sector, the project is aiming to improve the income of more than 40,000 cashew farmers in five African countries and boost their competitiveness.

About half of the global cashew crop is produced by about 1.5 million farmers in Africa. Their annual income of USD 120 to 450 is very low, which is due in part to the farmers' lack of expertise and low yields. What's more, not even 10 per cent of the crop is actually processed in Africa.

Since 2009, GIZ has supported the African Cashew Initiative by providing training to smallholders in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and
Mozambique in improved farming methods and farm management. The farmers have not only increased their yields by up to 80 per cent per hectare, they have also more than doubled their income. And with 20 new processing factories, the countries can now process the nuts themselves, which has benefited women in particular as they make up 75 per cent of the factory workers. The project's third phase, which is just getting under way, will expand on these approaches by boosting productivity through the cashew value chain. A further aim is to strengthen the competitiveness of local processors of cashew nuts and by-products, and so create new jobs.