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USDA launches cashew value chain project for West African countries

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has launched a US$38mn project in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to enhance the regional cashew value chain and improve the trade of processed cashews in local and international markets

During the launch ceremony in Dakar, Senegal, the six-year Food For Progress (FFPr) Regional Cashew Value Chain Project called the linking infrastructure, finance and farms to cashews (LIFFT-Cashew). At the launch event, numerous government officials, as well as private sector leaders from The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, discussed the regional integration of the cashew value chain.

The US was represented by the US ambassador to The Gambia, Richard Carlton Paschall III, and the US ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Tulinabo Salama Mushingi.

The US ambassadors emphasised the need for collaboration between the three countries. Ambassador Paschall highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for producers and processors to boost economic development and working together to meet the needs of local and international markets.

Paschall said, “I believe that government policy that encourages market-led development and regional integration of the cashew sector, through the private sector, is critical to integrate the cashew value chain and achieve the project’s goal. This will help stimulate economic development and incite the creation of jobs here in the region by meeting market demand requirements.”

Adding value to the region’s cashew sector

The government representatives of the beneficiary countries stressed the importance of adding value to their region’s cashew sector, as approximately five to six per cent of their produced cashew nut is processed locally. Facilitating the processing of cashew nuts within the region will create new jobs and increase incomes, attract more investment to the cashew sector and create sustainable socio-economic development.

After the opening ceremony, workshop participants discussed major issues for the cashew sector, including access to finance, market linkages between cooperatives and processors, organic certification and government strategies to facilitate regional integration.

During the group breakout session, government officials discussed regional integration and the three governments’ roles in supporting cashew value chain actors. The private sector group, consisting of farmer cooperatives, processors, investors and financial institutions, discussed the challenges and opportunities they face. Additionally, they discussed the importance of linkages between the value chain actors and the support they need from governments for collective sales, processing and exports.