CNFA Delegation Visits USDA PRO-Cashew Project in Benin
The five-year project is boosting the competitiveness of West African cashew producers by improving efficiency and quality in production and trade.
COTONOU, Benin—A delegation of CNFA’s Board of Directors and team members from Washington D.C. and West Africa met with cashew producers, processors and key public and private sector officials in Benin to gain a better understanding of the country’s agriculture sector and experience firsthand the activities implemented by CNFA under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) West Africa PRO-Cashew Project. The visit took place from March 26-29, 2023, under the leadership of Mike Espy, chair of CNFA’s Board of Directors.
“During our visit we saw firsthand how strong public-private partnerships can facilitate investment, provide jobs and transform rural economies by improving cashew quality, boosting sales and strengthening the environment for production and trade,” said Espy. “Our interactions with key stakeholders also exemplified the value that agricultural development initiatives like PRO-Cashew have on supporting West African producers to improve their farming practices and export competitiveness.”
While in Benin, the delegation traveled to Bohicon to tour the Korosho Factory and Orchard, a PRO-Cashew Agriculture Extension Grantee working to improve the quality of raw cashew nuts by building farmer capacity through trained extension agents. They also traveled to Glo-Djigbé to tour the Glo-Djigbé Industrial Zone, an area near Cotonou dedicated to creating jobs, transforming the local agriculture sector and advancing agricultural products like cashew. The delegation then met with high-level government officials from Benin and the U.S., including Gaston Dossouhoui, Benin’s Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, U.S. Ambassador Brian Shukan and Gerald Smith, USDA’s Regional Attaché for Cameroon, Benin and Nigeria.
Recounting the trip, Sylvain Roy, CNFA’s President and CEO, reiterated the importance of developing strong relationships with local partners such as the National Federation of Cashew Growers of Benin and the National Institute of Agricultural Research of Benin to continue strengthening farmers’ capacity in climate-smart agriculture, promoting more coherent regional trade and investment policies and ensuring sustainable growth in the country’s cashew sector.
“By strengthening producer capacities, facilitating regional cooperation between industry stakeholders and providing tools for producers to sustainably renovate and rehabilitate their farms, PRO-Cashew is helping stimulate the demand for West African cashews in international markets,” said Roy. “This is critical to increasing regional economic growth and improving incomes and food security for local producers.”
Board members participating in the delegation included:
- Mike Espy, Mississippi
- John Cavanaugh, Nebraska
- Jackie Klippenstein, Missouri
- Elin Miller, Oregon
- Gail Mitchell, Wisconsin
- Sylvain Roy, Maryland
As the second-largest consumer of cashews globally, the U.S. has been consistently ranked as one of the top three cashew importers. West African cashew production and exports are growing faster than that of any other region, making these countries ideal trading partners as the U.S. demand for cashews continues to grow. The five-year PRO-Cashew Project works to boost the competitiveness of West African cashew producers by improving efficiency, quality and investment in production and trade. PRO-Cashew aims to support over 700,000 producers by 2024 and, in doing so, improve the sale of raw cashew nuts from West Africa. Funded through the U.S. government’s Food for Progress Program, PRO-Cashew is currently implemented by CNFA in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria.
About CNFA: Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture is an international agricultural development organization that specializes in the design and implementation of sustainable, enterprise-based agricultural initiatives. We work with businesses, foundations, governments, and communities to build customized local and global partnerships that meet the world’s growing demand for food. Since our inception in 1985, we have designed and implemented enterprise-based, agricultural development initiatives to facilitate market access, enhance agribusiness competitiveness, increase productivity, and improve access to inputs and financing in 47 countries around the world.