Friday’s Photo: Strengthening the Cashew Value Chain in Senegal
This Friday's Photo highlights IRD's Cashew Value Chain Enhancement Project in The Gambia and Senegal. Recently Ambassador Lukens, U.S. Ambassador to Senegal, visited IRD's program in Cassamance, Senegal. In this photograph, Aminata Diallo explains the level one cashew process to Ambassador Lukens on his first visit to the program and this area of the country. Level one processing includes steaming, shelling, and delivery to town for further processing.
The Gambia River Basin Cashew Value Chain Enhancement Project (CEP) is a subregional initiative that works to increase the incomes of rural populations in targeted zones of The Gambia and Senegal and to strengthen the cashew value chain. The project’s approach strengthens farmer-to-farmer learning and builds on existing knowledge of cashew production and marketing rather than looking to outside models, which may be difficult to adapt to cultural and environmental conditions.
In order to enable 10,000 cashew farmers throughout the region to maximize returns from cashew production and improve their livelihoods, CEP is increasing the competitiveness of the sub-regional cashew value chain through three key objectives.
Organize cashew farmers and strengthen management capabilities: CEP provides training in entrepreneurship, organization, business development, and export market research. This is complimented by networking visits and study tours at cashew grower associations in the subregion and within the larger cashew market.
Increase productivity and quality of the cashew crop: CEP encourages use of higher yielding crop varieties while disseminating innovative agronomic technologies and improved land management and post-collection handling practices. Best practices to increase cashew yields and improve cashew nut quality through research, selection, and introduction of improved cashew seed varieties are taught through village-level peer training.
Increase value addition and local consumption of cashew: The program works with appropriate small scale processing units to transform the cashew apple and nut into processed products that meet international standards. An emphasis is placed on supporting local industry and demand for cashew products since the volumes at present are relatively small. CEP also promotes sound business practices and introduces modern technologies for small scale rural processors. Finally, education programs and media campaigns are developed to raise awareness of the nutritional values of the cashew.
Beginning in 2009, IRD began working with the Peace Corps to maximize CEP’s reach and benefits. Peace Corps volunteers helped identify cashew growing villages and served in them to refine project training materials used in farmer field schools that IRD has conducted in over 350 villages. The manual is used by existing cashew growers as well as new entrants into the cashew value chain, and is supporting the adoption of best production, processing, and marketing practices to ensure that cashew businesses develop into highly profitable ventures for all those who engage in it.