Press Release

USDA Launches West Africa Cashew Project to Address Production and Policy Challenges

The five-year USDA-funded Project is implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).

WASHINGTON DC – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a new initiative to bolster the competitiveness of West African cashew producers by improving efficiency and quality across the sector and helping to develop more coherent regional trade and investment policies.

The five-year West Africa Cashew Project (PRO-Cashew), implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA), an international agricultural development organization headquartered in Washington D.C., will focus on cashew producers in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria. In addition to helping growers increase production capacity and nut quality, the project will work to develop incentives to renovate and rehabilitate cashew farms, and create a more competitive West African raw cashew nut for the international market.

“Cashew production has evolved into an important part of the West African economy—and continues to grow in the region,” said CNFA President and Chief Executive Officer Sylvain Roy. “PRO-Cashew is designed to advance a multi-pronged approach that will address and remedy the many production and policy challenges that come with that success.”

Raw cashew production has become an important commercial activity for West African smallholder farmers—as a result of increased demand, expansion of orchards and increased government prioritization. Introduced to West Africa in the 1960s to fight erosion and desertification, cashew production in the region has grown 140 percent over the past decade— generating $1.5 billion in export sales for more than 1.1 million farmers.

At the same time, cashew producers face a range of serious challenges—including reduced yields due to aging tree stocks, limited technical and financial capacity to rehabilitate and renovate aging orchards, and an undeveloped nursery sector unable to provide the necessary seedlings to offset productivity declines. Moreover, uncoordinated trade policies tend to encourage countries to compete against one another and weaken regional trade policy cooperation.

Through PRO-Cashew, CNFA will:

  • Build capacity by working with farmer organizations and agro-food suppliers in the areas of service delivery and business and orchard management. CNFA will assess training needs to strengthen the capacity of extension teams in good agricultural practices, renovation and rehabilitation, and climate resilience, by collaborating with industry organizations and agricultural ministries;
  • Leverage matching contributions of individual grant disbursements from private, public or farmer sources to catalyze private investment, increase partners’ and farmers’ profitability, and build the capacity of cashew farmers to renovate and rehabilitate their farms;
  • Develop agrodealers and input suppliers to improve the efficiency and sustainability of seedling production systems through public-private partnerships; establish cost-effective, high-performance tree seedlings at central nurseries, and distribute them through rural-based seedling retail businesses. CNFA will also facilitate agreements to ensure long-term public-private partnerships;
  • Develop an integrated data system to identify gaps and build a multi-country cashew data management system (Cashew-IN) to meet policymaker, farmer and private-sector needs. Among its uses, the system also will monitor the cashew supply chain, support traceability, and inform evidence-based policies to increase West African cashew profitability and marketability;
  • Disperse improved market information by leveraging stakeholder relationships to strengthen existing data, fill in gaps in data coverage and quality, and promote data use; and
  • Improve policy and regulatory framework by engaging national and regional policy makers, private-sector stakeholders, and development agency partners to facilitate and improve regional trade policy cooperation and address regional policy issues on cashew.

“The farmers of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria have transformed their countries into the top five cashew-producing countries in the world,” Roy said. “PRO-Cashew will ensure that this crop continues to serve as an efficient and financially viable engine of economic growth across West Africa.”

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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 46 countries around the world.