Improving Post-Harvest Practices to Increase Cashew Farmers Income
Salifa Yahaya is a farmer from Labaka-Oja, a small settlement in the Kwara State of Nigeria, where about 80% of the residents are cashew farmers. Despite the region’s climate and soil conditions being apt for farming raw cashew nuts, local producers face other issues that hinder their operations. More specifically, unfavorable market conditions as well as a lack of technology make it difficult to harvest large yields and produce high-quality cashew nuts to sell for higher prices. Despite managing a relatively large farm of 11 ha, this affected Yahaya.
To address these barriers, the USDA West Africa PRO-Cashew Project (PRO-Cashew) collaborated with Sonata Nigeria formerly known as Huxley Nigeria, a company specializing in the processing and exporting of raw cashew nuts, to host a series of training sessions—one of which Yahaya attended. In this training, Yahaya and other local farmers learned new harvest and post-harvest practices to implement on their farms to produce better results. They were also trained in business operating techniques to make the most out of their improved cashew yields.
“I never thought I could get so much more money just by drying my cashew nuts,” she said. “I also never believed in keeping those little farm records and consistently saving small amounts of money until Sonata Nigeria trained us. I am so grateful I didn’t miss out.”
In the previous harvesting season, Yahaya was only able to collect 3.5 MT of raw cashew nuts due to many parts of her farm being inaccessible from orchard overgrowth. Applying pruning and management practices from the Sonata Nigeria training, Yahaya was able to improve her orchard’s conditions and collect larger and higher quality yields. This harvest season, she collected about 5 MT of raw cashew nuts. By drying the nuts, Yahaya was able to increase the quality of her product even further and sell for a higher price than she would have if the nuts were wet, earning about 7% more than her peers.
Before participating in Sonata Nigeria’s training, Yahaya did not approach her cashew production as a business, but rather as means to support just herself and her family. With a new business outlook, she now meticulously records production and sales figures, making it easier to re-invest into her enterprise and engage in other profitable activities. Yahaya also joined a savings group which allows her to allocate money toward other plans she may, following the recommendation of a Sonata Nigeria extension worker.
As part of the PRO-Cashew Agricultural Extension Grant program’s objective of establishing stronger supply chain linkages between producers and exporters, a grant was provided to Sonata Nigeria to continue supporting raw cashew nut producers with agricultural extension services. The grant also aims to enhance the local processing company’s supply chain and open doors for producers to find more selling opportunities.