Profitability increases after Cooperative takes a business approach to cashew
Food for Progress: LIFFT-Cashew Project
Food for Progress is collaborating with Shelter For Life (SFL) to implement the Linking Infrastructure, Finance, and Farms to Cashew (LIFFT-Cashew) in Senegal, The Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau (SeGaBi). The initial six-year project from 2017 to 2023 was recently awarded a merit-based extension to 2025. The project is developing a regional and integrated Cashew Value Chain by increasing cashew production, processing, and trade in local and international markets. This is accomplished through the construction of durable trade infrastructure, increased access to financial services, smallholder farmer organization, training to increase production and bargaining power, and building on the capacity of local processors to add value to cashew kernel in West Africa. The Ajac Lukaal cashew farmer cooperative in the Casamance region of Senegal is one of 24 agricultural cooperatives with which the project is building capacity. Ajac Lukaal was recently established as a cooperative society in 2021 with 113 official members, including 71 men and 42 women, and a network of over 1,000 cashew-producing farmers.
Mr. Ismaila Djiba, president of the cooperative, stated, “Thanks to USDA support through the LIFFT-Cashew project, producers now sign win-win contracts directly with international exporters. For example, Ajac Lukaal started by selling 821 MT of Raw Cashew Nut (RCN) in 2020, which has increased annually. Recently we collected and sold 3,000 MT worth $2.3M in 2023.” In addition, every year, more farmers register as members, and the cooperative engages in group sales to increase pricing power and earn more significant profits for farmers. In 2023 alone, the Ajac Lukaal cooperative registered 92 new members, including 78 men and 14 women.
Since the beginning of the project, SFL partner cooperatives in the SeGaBi sold 129,630 MT of raw cashew nuts, amounting to $110 million in sales value for farmers.
The project facilitated face-to-face and online B2B events to connect cooperatives with local and international buyers. Since 2020, 145 commercial supply contracts have been signed through the trade facilitation component of the project. The business model of the agricultural cooperatives in the three countries is to foster partnerships with all stakeholders, generate profits, and build relationships with the market.
Through the project’s grant mechanism, the cooperative received two moto-tricycles greatly facilitating cashew nut collection from remote villages; two nut sorting machines and moisture meters which allow grading of nut quality, office equipment (computer, printer, internet, office furniture) to improve record keeping and business practices; and chainsaws so that trees can be pruned and spaced to boost yields and nut quality. The business model for farmer cooperatives is to foster partnerships with all stakeholders, generate profit, and establish market relations. SeGaBi cooperatives invested their own financial and other resources as partners and co-investors in the project to maximize the impact of USDA funding. Between 2020 to 2022, partner cooperatives in the SeGaBi region leveraged approximately $150,000 in cash and in-kind investment toward their agriculture and storage rehabilitation/construction activities. For example, the Ajac Lukaal cooperative rehabilitated a 977 m3 warehouse to store 300 MT of RCN. The project has rehabilitated 23 cashew nut (RCN) storage warehouses and constructed 4 new warehouses, totaling 39,443 m3. SFL is on track to complete 10 additional storages by the end of 2023, enabling farmers to maintain nut quality and organize collective sales. In addition, the project has linked thousands of rural farmers to markets by completing 136 km of agriculture feeder roads involving over 4,600 cash for workers.
The project trains farmers across the region on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). A toal of 721 model farmer facilitators trained 28,689 cashew producers on pruning, thinning, nut separation, drying, storage, organic standards, and new plantation establishment techniques. As a result, 23,268 farmers have applied improved management practices or technologies on over 54,145 hectares of plantations.
In addition, the project works to improve local cashew variety productivity and quality by working with cashew nurseries. Since 2020 these nurseries have produced over 98,000 seedlings, including 7,500 from Ajac Lukaal, used in agroforestry and reforestation of new plantations to renew old, non-productive ones.
The project helps processors obtain organic and food safety certifications to open their markets to U.S. buyers. In Senegal, 750 farmers have been trained in organic production, and 500 have been certified organic and linked to a local processor (SCPL) who has purchased their nuts. The project aims to certify at least 6,000 farmers over the next two years, building the capacity of processors to sell to the U.S. market.
For more information and questions, please contact:
Mrs. Brigitte Françoise SAGNA, Regional PR Communications Officer, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: 00221 77 381 71 37
|See also: https://www.shelter.org/sen-p1