During the month of January 2022, the BeninCajù project, financed by the USDA and implemented by TechnoServe organized in Parakou, a training session for Decentralized Financial Systems (SFD) on cashew nut business models and their financing.
For four (4) days, the agents of SFD, FECECAM, PEBCO, Agrifinance, RENECA and ASF BENIN participated in this session which is part of the memorandum of understanding linking the BeninCajù project and ProFinA concerning cashew nut business models.
Indeed, the ProFinA project (Promotion of Agricultural Financing) of the German Cooperation (GIZ) aiming at the professionalization of supply (SFD and banks) and demand (agricultural actors) actors in agricultural financing in order to create a sustainable link between them, started in 2016. and allows farms and agribusinesses, to access financial services adapted to their business models, by improving their skills in managing adapted financial services, but also to improve the capacities of the selected Financial Institutions regarding the development and implementation of adapted financial services. As part of its interventions, the BeninCajù project has initiated a series of training sessions for Decentralized Financial Systems. These sessions aim at equipping these actors to take appropriate decisions in favor of the financing of the production, with for specific objectives, a better understanding of the value chain and its advantages for the financing of the cashew nut production; a better knowledge of the business opportunities of the links of the production, the factors of risks and the elements of mitigation; the elements of appreciation of the requests for loans of cashew nut producers. Read more here.
The month of December 2021 was marked by a visit of the BeninCajù team to the NASSARA Company, beneficiary of the project. This visit was part of the contract between TechnoServe and NASSARA BENIN Sarl and was accompanied by meetings with the producers of raw organic cashew nuts in their plantations.
NASSARA BENIN is a pioneer in Benin in the production, processing and export of organic and fair trade certified cashew nuts. It is also the promoter of a factory for the transformation of organic cashew nuts into white almonds. She has been involved in the sector for several years. Based in Parakou, 413 km from Cotonou, and managed by Luc Evènamian LOCO, NASSARA BENIN works on a number of certifications, notably organic and fair trade certification.
The organic certification prohibits the use of any synthetic chemical products and any chemical input in the production and plantations of cashew trees. The main advantage of organic certification for producers is not only the maintenance of their soil fertility, but also the preservation of their health. Fair Trade is the certification that requires transparency, democracy and good governance at the level of producers' cooperatives. In return, they are entitled to a minimum fair trade purchase price that covers their production costs and ensures a profit margin, and to the fair trade premium, which is a rebate paid to the producer cooperative after sales made under the fair trade label. This premium allows the cooperative to make social and community investments. Read more here.
Passionate about agriculture and specifically cashew nut cultivation, Salomé ALOKO started her agricultural activity more than twenty years ago. Born in Alafiarou in the commune of Tchaourou, 359 km from Cotonou in the north of Benin, Salomé, in her fifties, comes from a family of farmers. She is married and has six (6) children. In addition to cashew production, she transforms cassava into gari (flour) and tapioca.
It has been 3 years now that Salomé has known the BeninCajù project thanks to the Union Communale des Producteurs d'anacarde of her locality.
« I have known the Benincajù project for 3 years. I was trained on the techniques of thinning, pruning of my plantation. Benincajù also trained me on harvesting and post-harvest. They also taught me how to maintain my field to avoid rodent attacks before flowering. Benincajù also taught us how we can combine soybean and beekeeping with our cashew crop to increase our production.» Salomé ALOKO
Salomé has recorded a clear improvement in her production since she applied the techniques taught by the BeninCajù project. Indeed, she has gone from 3000 Kg to 4000Kg of cashew nuts in 2 years. She confided to us that she has more income and is now more comfortable to provide for her family and ensure the school and university education of her children. However, covid-19 has not spared Salome's activities. Read more here.
During the first quarter of 2022, the USDA-funded BeninCajù project, implemented by TechnoServe, continued its technical and financial support to the Directorate of Internal Trade (DCI) of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, particularly in relation to the finalization of the study on "In-depth analysis of the production cost structure of raw cashew nuts."
It must be said that in Benin, the cashew tree is now the 2nd largest export crop after cotton and is one of the priority sectors to be developed. This sector offers a new opportunity to small producers who are increasingly invested in it, while ensuring a greater contribution to the fight against poverty and unemployment in rural areas. However, cashew nut production operates in an environment marked by numerous external shocks, including crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, price volatility and the resulting closure of factories in India and Vietnam, among others. This situation hinders the proper functioning of the cashew industry and does not facilitate the maintenance of good commercial relations between the different actors. In addition, in Benin, the low level of organization of the actors does not allow them to have decision-making tools for an adequate evaluation of the economic impacts linked to the different shocks and to propose management rules within the sector. Read more here.
The months of February and March 2022 recorded for the component ''Production'' of the BeninCajù project, three major activities contributing to the increase of the production of raw cashew nuts in Benin.
As part of the implementation of the process to achieve the national production target of 2,000,000 grafted cashew trees, the BeninCajù project, financed by the USDA and implemented by TechnoServe has acquired about 900 grafting machines adapted to facilitate the grafting operation to nurserymen. The delivery of these materials to the Presidents of the four (4) cooperatives of grafted cashew tree nurseries (CoPAG) was held on February 16, 2022 in the premises of the Territorial Agency of Agricultural Development (ATDA) pole 4 in Parakou.
This ceremony brought together not only the CoPAG presidents of FeNaPAC Benin but also Mr. Issaka KASSIMOU, Director General of ATDA pole 4, some of his technical collaborators, as well as the President of FeNaPAC. This equipment will facilitate the production of 2,000,000 grafted cashew seedlings which are a priority for the Government. In this perspective, the BeninCajù project under the initiative of Professor Peter MASAWE, International Cashew Expert, initiated, in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Center-Center (CRA-Center) and ATDA4, the identification of elite cashew mother trees.
This activity, which is part of the cashew varietal selection process and facilitates access to grafts in Benin, follows the verification mission of 2,764 cashew mother trees previously selected in 2020 by technicians from the CRA-centre and ATDA4. Read more here.
In line with the theme of the United Nations' celebration of International Women's Day 2022, "Gender Equality Today for a Sustainable Future," the USDA funded BeninCajù project for the integration and acceleration of the cashew industry, implemented by TechnoServe, organized an event for women in the cashew industry.
Given the general situation of women in the cashew industry, which shows that, although they are very present in the production and processing (especially of apples into juice), they are still relegated to secondary roles despite their predominant position in these sectors, it was essential for the BeninCajù project to initiate an awareness campaign and training for the integration of gender in the industry in Benin. In fact, women have responsibilities in picking, sowing, drying, harvesting crops associated with plantations (necessary food production) and collecting raw cashew nuts. They participate in these activities independently on their own farms or within the family farm (husband's field), whether or not they are paid. However, very few of them own large farms. In addition, they are the most present in the almond processing units (as workers) and in the apple juice processing units (as owners and/or workers). It is therefore necessary to create the conditions to facilitate the valorisation of women's participation in all the links of the production process. To this end, it is important to strengthen the leadership of women in the different links of the chains, to reinforce their resilience and to seek strategies to increase their responsibility and their rights on the farms and/or processing units; in this instance, to develop actions to respond to the theme of the 2022 edition of the International Women's Day.
Thus, the project organized on March 8, 2022 in the premises of the Territorial Agency for Agricultural Development (ATDA4), a day with women actors of the cashew sector, including: women of ATDA4, PACOFIDE, PADEFA-ENA, PROCASHEW, PROPFR, CNTC, CONEC, FENAPAB, FENAPAC, FENAPAT, CCeCs, women producers and grafters. Read more here.
CASHEW NUT PRODUCTION INCREASE: BENINCAJU PROVIDES CASHEW INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS WITH AN INTERNATIONAL EXPERT TO SUPPORT AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH.
From August 27 to October 1, 2021, the International Expert, Specialist of the cashew value chain, Professor Peter MASAWE, carried out, on the request of the BeninCajù project, a support-consulting mission for research and development.
Benin aims to increase its cashew nut production from 130,000 to 300,000 tons/year by 2026. The achievement of this objective requires a production which, in terms of seedlings, must reach 2 million per year to be carried out by the nurserymen that the BeninCajù project currently accompanies. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential to strengthen the nurserymen's capacity to produce high-performance plant material.
In this regard, TechnoServe has requested the intervention of Professor Peter MASAWE in order to benefit from his experience in research in the cashew sector for the benefit of Benin. It should be recalled that the interventions of the Professor started since 2019 in Benin where he had criss-crossed all the cashew production communities, and demonstrated to nurserymen and producers, the techniques of manufacturing Bokashi, a substrate based on local materials promoting an efficient process of production of plant material. His mission continued throughout the month of September 2021 to observe and evaluate the implementation of cashew seedling production and nursery installation techniques that he had taught the actors.
The audience at the Cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries gave the top to this field mission of which he presented the exhaustive agenda to the Minister. Read more here.
« I started producing cashew in 1998 where I harvested a basin of nuts valued at 3,000F CFA. I knew BeninCajù in 2019 with a coach who came to sensitize and train us several times on plantation maintenance techniques, plant selection, good production practices, harvesting and post-harvest, cultural association. The application of this knowledge has allowed me to increase my yield. Currently, I harvest 15 bags of nuts per hectare per year, which brings me 300,000 francs », Biba SAKA KOTO, a cashew nut producer, told us with a smile when we went to meet her during the month of September 2021 in N'dali (474 km from Cotonou).
With the support of BeninCajù , in just 3 years, Biba earns 100 times more than what she always earned during 21 years.
She was born in N'dali in northern Benin. In her fifties, widow and mother of 4 children, Biba is an agricultural enthusiast. She cultivates several varieties including cotton, corn, soybeans, rice, yams, millet and beans. Her assiduity to the trainings of the BeninCajù project and her bravery earned her the title of Producer Leader (capable of relaying the agricultural trainings received from BeninCajù to her peers) and Responsible for training and literacy at the FENAPAB Parakou. Read more here.
The USDA-funded BeninCajù project, implemented by TechnoServe, supports a number of cashew industry stakeholders, including cashew apple juice processors.
TechnoServe has requested support from Partner for Development (PfD) to continuously improve the quality of existing cashew juice and develop new by-products; explore and test innovative packaging to reduce the unit cost and improve the affordability of cashew juice; effectively market and distribute cashew juice; and facilitate access to national, regional, and international markets.
PfD is implementing the PINEX project, "Pineapple Processing for Export," also funded by the USDA and aimed at processing pineapple for export for eight (08) years in the six southern departments of Benin and Zou.
Since 2020, the partnership between PfD and TechnoServe has made it possible to develop and launch on the national and sub-regional markets several varieties of cashew apple juice cocktails with other fruit species. These include cashew apple-pineapple, cashew apple-baobab, cashew apple-tamarind, cashew apple-ginger and cashew apple-watermelon. Read more here.
Following the AFOKANTAN and TOLARO GLOBAL factories, ANI (Africa Negoce Industries), a cashew processing factory in Benin, will soon obtain organic certification, allowing it to comply with EU and US regulations.
Organic certification is a system by which the conformity of products to a given standard is determined and confirmed. The final result is a certificate (proof of vigilance and seriousness of the collective or individual dynamics). Certification meets the needs of consumers who are looking for quality products and the expectations of citizens demanding environmentally friendly practices. It must be said that the global market for organic products is growing rapidly and represents an important opportunity for the actors in the sector to increase their income. The development of organic cashew nuts allows the marketing of good quality products, favourable to a healthy diet and the satisfaction of the supply demand of many countries, including those of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
As organic cashew nuts are sold at 20-30% higher prices than conventional cashew nuts, it is a solution for both producers and processors to increase their margins and ensure a certain sustainability of profits. In order to effectively support the creation of a national organic cashew market, the USDA-funded BeninCajù project, implemented by TechnoServe Benin and CRS, is opting to work alongside processors through its nut processing component to facilitate the achievement of organic certification. Read more here.