Competitive Cashew Initiative (ComCashew)

Project description

Title: Competitive African Cashew Value Chains for Pro-Poor Growth
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union (EU), Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone
Partner: more than 100 public, private and civil society partner, Board members: Intersnack, nuts2, Sustainable Nut Initiative, Olam, Kraft Heinz, REWE, Walmart, RedRiver, Caro Nut, USAID, IDH, African Cashew Alliance, FMS, SECO, European Union, CCA, MOFA, INCAJU, BMZ, MAAH as well as public partners.
Lead executing agency: Benin:
Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (Ministère de l’Agriculture, de l’Elevage et de la Pêche [MAEP]), Burkina Faso: Ministry of Agriculture, and Water Resources (Ministère de l’Agriculture et de l’Hydraulique), Côte d’Ivoire: Ministry of Agriculture (Ministère de l´Agriculture [MINAGR]), Mozambique: Ministry of Agriculture (National Cashew Institute), Ghana: Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Sierra Leone: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), African Cashew Alliance (ACA)
Overall term: 2009 to 2020


The African cashew sector offers high economic development prospects for producing countries, where about 56 per cent of the world’s cashew harvest comes from. With global demand on a constant rise, cashew production and processing offer an important potential for employment and wealth creation, climate change mitigation through climate smart agriculture and the economic empowerment of women and youth, especially in vulnerable rural areas.

As part of the programme “Agricultural Value Chains for Sustainable Development”, the Competitive Cashew initiative - ComCashew (formerly African Cashew initiative - ACi) focuses on building sustainable cashew value chains and increasing the competitiveness of African cashew production and processing by providing support in areas ranging from research, to capacity development and policy advice.

Jointly with private and public actors, ComCashew constitutes a new era of multi-stakeholder partnership aiming to achieve sustainable poverty reduction in the project countries. Ultimately, new opportunities for employment along the value chain have been created, especially for women and in specific rural areas, thereby ensuring an increase in and diversification of income.


The programme increases the competitiveness of the cashew value chain in selected African countries.


After having built a basis for the cashew sector in the six African project countries through trainings for farmers and processors and through activities linking them to national and international markets, ComCashew aims now – in its third phase – to consolidate these efforts with emphasis on establishing a sustainable relationship between the chain actors, transferring knowledge and building sustainable institutions, providing trainings, business advice and services. Working in cooperation with public and private sector actors, the project aims to improve the competitiveness of the cashew sector in selected African countries. Using the value chain approach ComCashew works to promote all the actors along the cashew value chain towards a sustainable development of the sector.

The project involves four components:

  • Production: Improving productivity and increasing the quantity and quality of production
  • Processing: Improving the efficiency, quantity and quality of processing
  • Inclusive Business: Establishing long-term linkages along the supply chain: nationally, regionally and internationally
  • Sector Organisation: Creating a supportive enabling environment, for example by means of guidelines that favour the cashew sector



Over 620,000 farmers, have benefitted from the interventions of ComCashew and its partners. Real incomes per household have increased by over 300 per cent since the inception of the project. Yields have increased by 86 per cent, and quality of cashew nuts has improved.

With regards to processing, the cashew processing capacity in all project countries passed from 50,000 metric tonnes in 2008 to a total of 384,657 metric tonnes in 2019. So far processing volumes in Africa have increased from 5 per cent in 2010, to 10 per cent in 2019, however installed capacities are yet to be fully utilised. This also means more jobs, especially for women. So far local processing companies have created more than 38,000 jobs, 68 per cent of these jobs for women.

Moreover, 51 Matching Fund Projects by public and private sector actors along the value chain have been implemented together with partners to improve production, enable linkages with farmers, as well as increase traceability along the value chain.

Given its impact, strategy and overall success, ComCashew was awarded the OECD’s DAC Innovation Prize for Taking Development Innovation to Scale in 2016.

Selected results:

  • Since the projects inception, over 620,000 cashew farmers have undergone training in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The efficacy of GAP and adoption of improved planting material have resulted in an improved average yield increase of 86 per cent and improved the quality of the product. 
  • The total annual income for beneficiaries along the value chain has reached about 320 million Euros in nominal terms. In 2019 alone, the average annual per farmer income has been increased to up to 547 Euros. 
  • In the past 10 years, more than 600,000 jobs have been created, of which 90 per cent are in production and 10 per cent in processing and trade. 
  • 724 persons have participated in the Master Training Program (MTP) since 2013. In the last three editions, 43 per cent were women. The main aim of the MTP is to create a pool of qualified experts in the cashew value chain to facilitate knowledge exchange, learning and innovation within the cashew sector in Africa.
  • The cashew sector is currently more organised than it was when the initiative commenced in 2009. With the support of the initiative, national cashew strategies and policies have been developed in the project countries and regional exchange has been encouraged. This includes the Planting for Export & Rural Development (PERD) Program and the Tree Crop Development Authority (TCDA). The project has supported the PERD Program with improved planting material development and distribution to farmers and provided technical and advisory support in the establishment of the TCDA, which will oversee regulation of the cashew sector in Ghana. The project collaborates closely with the Cashew Industry Association, African Cashew Alliance (ACA), has since 2014 supported the biennially organised Cashew Technology and Processing Show (SIETTA) in Abidjan, supports research exchanges in the frame of the cashew research network (REDAA) and has supported the Consultative International Cashew Council (CICC), which currently has 11 African member states.

Additional information