Opinion

Advancements in West Africa's Cashew Industry: Towards Enhanced Production and Sustainability

Published May 14, 2024
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The latest advances in the West African cashew industry have brought to light a series of strategic initiatives aimed at significantly bolstering production, fostering robust collaboration among stakeholders, and ensuring long-term sustainability. The AEC-CI engaged with Bình Phước province in Vietnam to explore collaboration opportunities, emphasizing standardizing contracts and securing stable raw material supplies. Meanwhile, the ACA partnered with Cambodia to enhance production across Africa, aiming for significant output growth. In addition, the US PTNPA visited the Ivory Coast to foster knowledge exchange and explore export opportunities. Despite competition and financial instability, the industry's ambition to increase production signals a strong commitment to growth and development.

Exploring Collaboration Opportunities in the Cashew Industry

Recent developments in the West African cashew industry have unveiled a series of strategic initiatives geared towards bolstering production, nurturing collaborative efforts, and fortifying sustainability within the sector.

AEC-CI and Bình Phước Association Meeting

The Cashew Exporters Association of Ivory Coast (AEC-CI) assembled with representatives from the Cashew Association of Bình Phước province to explore potential collaboration opportunities. Bình Phước, a leading cashew-producing province in Vietnam, boasts significant cultivation areas and processing capabilities. However, the province faces a shortfall in local raw materials, with a substantial portion imported from various countries, including Indonesia, Cambodia, and Africa.

The AEC-CI President emphasized Ivory Coast's robust cashew production and expressed interest in collaborating with the Vietnamese market. Both parties aim to standardize contracts, enhance mutual trust, and ensure buyer protection while mitigating risks and maintaining product quality and reasonable prices. Additionally, the Chairman of Bình Phước Cashew Association outlined plans to support businesses engaging in trade cooperation with cashew-growing nations to secure stable raw material supplies and mitigate risks. Despite challenges, Bình Phước remains a significant player in the global cashew market, importing 750 thousand metric tons (mt) of raw materials.

Strengthening Cashew Production, ACA's Partnership with Cambodia for African Growth

The African Cashew Alliance (ACA) established a strategic partnership with Cambodia to enhance cashew production across Africa, aiming to replicate Cambodia's remarkable five-fold production increase over the past decade. The partnership was formalized through a memorandum of understanding between the ACA and the Cashewnut Association of Cambodia in Feb-24 and focuses on knowledge sharing, technology transfer, and capacity building in cashew cultivation.

Cambodia, now the world's second-largest cashew supplier renowned for its superior quality and yield, attributed its success to adopting high-yield varieties, efficient farming methods, and proximity to key markets such as Vietnam. The president of the ACA anticipates that Africa's production and productivity will double within five years through this collaboration, potentially increasing the continent's cashew output from 2.8 million metric tons (mmt) to 5 mmt. With Ivory Coast leading African cashew production, followed by Nigeria and Tanzania, significant improvements in yield per hectare and nut quality are forecasted, translating into higher farmer incomes and improved livelihoods. This partnership addresses Africa's increasing processing capacity and underscores agriculture's pivotal role in economic growth and prosperity.

Knowledge Exchange and Collaboration Between the PTNPA and the Ivory Coast

On April 24, the United States (US) Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association (PTNPA) concluded a significant international trade visit to the Ivory Coast focused on engagements with key cashew processors, government officials, and business leaders. The trip aimed to foster knowledge exchange, enhance relationships, and explore opportunities for collaboration within the global nut industry.

As a leading cashew nut producer, the Ivory Coast's industry has ambitious plans to boost production by 50% by 2030, with aspirations to meet US food safety standards for potential export to the American market. During the visit, PTNPA addressed food safety systems, compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and prospects for expanding business ties with the US. Emphasis was placed on sharing insights into the US regulatory landscape, industry best practices, and avenues for future cooperation.

Insights into Ivory Coast Cashew Industry an Urgent Appeal for Subsidy Renewal

Cashew nut processors in Ivory Coast urgently appealed to the government to renew a subsidy agreement to stave off impending bankruptcy. The Ivory Coast Cashew Industry Group (GTCI) seeks to secure an agreement to guarantee raw cashew nut supplies, crucial for their operations. Despite expected growth in cashew output, processors face stiff competition from Asian exporters. The government is evaluating the request amidst concerns over strained public funds due to existing subsidies. Meanwhile, plans are underway to increase local processing to 50% by 2026 through tax incentives. However, challenges persist, with several processors declaring bankruptcy since 2020.

Another point to note is the relatively low farmgate prices, a growing concern for cashew growers. Typically from February to June, the Ivorian cashew industry awaits the government's announcement of farmgate prices, which have decreased this year to USD 0.45 per kilogram (CFA 275/kg).

Growth and Development Forecasted for the Ivory Coast Cashew Industry

The Ivory Coast cashew industry is poised for growth with strategic initiatives focusing on collaboration, partnership, and knowledge exchange. The industry's commitment to sustainability is exemplified by its endeavors to standardize contracts, guarantee buyer protection, and establish stable raw material supplies through its partnership with the Cashew Association of Bình Phước. Furthermore, the collaboration with Cambodia is forecasted to double Africa's cashew output within five years, while partnerships with US counterparts signal opportunities for export expansion. Despite challenges such as competition and financial instability, the industry's ambition to boost production by 50% by 2030 demonstrates a strong commitment to growth and development.

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