Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew)

Project description

Title: Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Partner: KraftHeinz, Olam, Trade and Development Group (TDG), Inter-snack, Red River Foods, Walmart, African Cashew Alliance (ACA), USAID, The Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH), and over 20 local private sector partners
Countries: Burkina Faso, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique
Lead executing agency: Benin: Ministère de l’Agriculture, de l’Elevage et de la Pêche (MAEP); Burkina Faso: Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Sécurité Alimentaire (MASA); Côte d’Ivoire: Ministère de l´Agriculture (MINAGR); Ghana: Ministry of Food & Agriculture (MoFA); Mozambique: Instituto de Formento de Caju (INCAJU)
Overall term: 2009 to 2018



Over the past 20 years, demand for cashew kernels on world markets is growing by approximately 10% per annum. While yield levels in competing countries are stagnating, geographic characteristics are favourable for cashew production in Africa, holding competitive advantages and therewith a major chance for African countries to tap into international markets. However, only around 10% of cashews produced in African countries are processed inside their country of origin. Consequently, opportunities for job creation, local value addition and poverty reduction remain largely untapped.

Even as more than 50% of the global cashew crop is produced in Africa, the level of productivity is relatively low compared to international standards. Hence, there is a significant potential to increase the yield per tree and thereby its productivity. The vast majority of cashew farmers live in rural areas and struggle to earn as much as USD 120 – 450 net per year from cashew, which makes about 20 to 50% of farmers’ cash income. Most of them are fragmented and disconnected from markets and have poor production practices, along with lack of access to training, finance, and inputs such as improved planting material.

In order to tackle these challenges and to take advantage of the opportunities, it requires sustainable supply chain linkages, access the agricultural knowledge and right technologies and finance as well as improved and inter-regional knowledge exchange.


ComCashew’s objective is to increase and consolidate the competitiveness of the cashew value chain and its contribution to poverty reduction.


The GIZ project Competitive Cashew initiative (ComCashew) is part of the GIZ program on the “Broad-scale Promotion of Agricultural Value Chains in Africa”. The aim of the project is to bring about sus-tainable growth using the value chain approach in African countries, to help reduce poverty, and to improve nutrition among a growing number of smallholder farmer households.

It is funded in its third phase by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Develop-ment (BMZ). The project, together with private and public actors, aims to enhance the competitiveness of the cashew sector in selected countries in Africa. This is achieved through the adoption of a value chain approach to promote the actors along the cashew value chain, in areas ranging from research, grafting and propagation, to production, processing and marketing. Ultimately, new opportunities for employment along the value chain have been created, specifically in rural areas, thereby ensuring an increase in and diversification of income. Additionally, a higher rate of women will join the workforce particularly in the processing sector.

Giving an impetus to the cashew sector, the sector continues to contribute to agricultural growth in the countries concerned, as well as to improved nutrition and to reduced poverty. The planting of cashew trees and their integration into the group of agricultural crops in the region ensures the diversification of agricultural cultivation systems as well as income sources, while promoting biodiversity, climate change adaptation and greenhouse gas reduction. The enrichment of agricultural land through the cultivation of resistant tree crops contributes to biodiversity within the farming systems and helps pre-vent soil erosion.


Since April 2009, more than 430,000 cashew farmers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Mozambique were trained in Good Agricultural Practices – about 22 per cent of these are women. Putting their knowledge into practice, farmers were able to reach higher yields and better quality.
Through training of trainers (Master Training Program), ComCashew developed local capacities of highly knowledgeable resource persons as trainers in cashew value chain including policy advice and facilitate regional exchange for learning and innovation: 180 master trainers from 12 countries have successfully graduated from the program.

ComCashew is supporting business linkages along the value-chain from producers to processors to buyers through cooperation of a least two private companies. It is thereby largely using the Matching Fund instrument, which has proven a highly appreciated tool following flexible funding, leveraging co-funds and injecting new ideas. An NGO is associated to ensure professional farmer support during implementation. Within ComCashew’s (former ACi) lifespan, 32 private sector, research as well as public led farmer linkage and improved planting material projects were successfully implemented through the Matching Fund with 32 partners, amounting to EUR 11 million.

Due to ComCashew activities, installed capacity rose from 8.800 MT in 2009 to 250.000 MT in 2016.Since inception of the project, more than 440.000 jobs have been created, about 75% in produc-tion and 25% in processing and trade. Their combined earnings amount to over EUR 480 million.
For its concept and measurable successes, ComCashew was awarded the Innovation Award of the OECD / DAC "Taking Development Innovation to Scale" in 2016.