BRC auditors are trained for the first time in West Africa, thanks to the support of BeninCajù
Benin cashews no longer know any borders, thanks to the British Retail Consortium certification, or BRC, to which two of the largest cashew processing factories in the country have already committed.
From 19 to 23 November 2018, BeninCajù trained 12 cashew experts in Cotonou who will serve as third-party BRC auditors. Already praised for the high quality of its cashew kernels, Benin is also ahead in terms of hygiene and food safety standards compared to other countries in West Africa, and the newly obtained British Retail Consortium Global Standard Certification, proves it!
According to Frédéric Gnonlonfoun, BeninCajù's Quality Issues Specialist, auditors training is of utmost importance and this is the first time that such a training is been provided in West Africa. 80% of the BRC Global Standard third-party auditor training is conducted in London at the BRC headquarters and it normally costs £1,500, or CFAF 1,103,050 per participant. BRC is an international standard for food safety, and today it is seen as the most trustworthy food standard reference in the agri-food processing world. Large international distribution chains usually require their food suppliers to have a BRC certification. BRC certified companies have no problem selling anywhere in the world. “This is really a huge opportunity for us”, adds Mr. Gnonlonfoun. The training of third-party BRC auditors is the first step in the certification process; successful participants will later be able to audit agribusiness companies and issue BRC certificates on behalf of the certification body.
With this training, Fludor and Tolaro Global, the two biggest cashew factories in Benin, will be better equipped to understand international standards and auditing requirements. It will also benefit the National Cashew Processors Council of Benin, CNTC, which wants to develop a technical committee composed of auditors to monitor the hygiene and quality levels in processing plants operating in Benin. BeninCajù's support to this training is part of the project’s vision to help increase and ensure the quality of cashews in Benin. Before the BRC training, BeninCajù had already helped twenty actors in the cashew processing industry obtain a PCQI diploma (Preventive Controls Qualified Individuals) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is a requirement of the new American Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). All these actions and initiatives reinforce Benin’s commitment to strengthen and develop its cashew health security system.
From 8 to 10 November 2018, Benin’s cashew processors, represented by IFA, the national cashew value chain association, took part in the third edition of the International Exhibition of Cashew Nut Processing Equipment and Technologies, SIETTA, in Abijian, organised this year in conjunction with the annual conference of the African Cashew Alliance, ACA. During the show, Benin was awarded the prize for the most beautiful booth and best presence/performance.
Over 7500 participants, 500 exhibitors and speakers, and 37 countries represented, SIETTA 2018 brought together people from all over the world, to discuss cashew nut transformation and explore the industry’s role in empowering the African youth. Panels, business meetings, innovative products, cashew tasting, as well as new processing techniques and technologies, were just some of the many activities that took place at SIETTA. Thanks to the support of partners such as BeninCajù, a project implemented by TechnoServe and the Catholic Relief Services, Benin’s cashew processors actively and successfully engaged in all trade show’s activities. Already well-known for the whiteness, size and sweetness of its cashews, Benin distinguished itself this year for the high number of delegates who were present at the show and the beauty of its booth. "We want the world to know about the outstanding quality of our cashews and to do that, we have to present our product well and use a packaging that reflects this quality", says one of IFA’s representatives.
Benin’s innovative cashew sector
TechnoServe Benin Country Director, James Obarowski and his Deputy Manager, Soulé Manigui, led several panel discussions on cashew nut shell electricity and opportunities for young people in the sector. The shell represents almost 70% of the total weight of a cashew nut and Benin will be collecting more than 24 thousand tons of cashew shells by 2020. The project BeninCajù has quickly realised the great potential hidden behind cashew shells, and is in fact already working with a cashew nut processing plant in the country to produce electricity from this otherwise wasted component. By the end of 2019, this ground-breaking innovation will become a reality. As for the opportunities for young people in the cashew industry, a great example was given by Mr Manigui, who talked about the growing need for cashew nurseries, to improve cashew trees productivity and quality - which is also a government’s priority - and the consequent increasing demand for nurseries workers.
Benin’s successful participation in SIETTA 2018 showed once again that the West African country is at the forefront of the global cashew industry and ready to fully exploit the great economic potential of this delicious nut!