CBI helps Côte d'Ivoire become world's second-largest cashew kernel exporter

With a well-organised cashew sector, Côte d'Ivoire is the world's largest exporter of raw cashew nuts. The country also has the potential to process the raw nuts into cashew kernels by origin. Importers from the European Union (EU) are interested in locally processed, traceable, high-quality cashew kernels. CBI and Côte d'Ivoire's government recognised this opportunity. Together, they helped companies process cashew kernels and meet Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards. 

The success story of Côte d'Ivoire's cashew kernels starts in 2019 with CBI's Edible Nuts Benin and Côte d'Ivoire project. This project aimed to help companies process and export market-ready cashew kernels to Europe. In Côte d'Ivoire, the government and the cashew sector were very motivated to enter the European market with locally processed cashew kernels. Together with Conseils du Coton et de l'Anacarde (CCA), the cashew processors and CBI's consultant developed a strategy by successfully connecting suppliers and the government to the international market. The project was successful because it brought the right people together at the right time.

Increasing cashew kernel export

In 2022 and 2023, a series of 5 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) workshops at cashew processing companies. A self-developed CSR tool specific to the cashew sector. Topics included working conditions, safety, payment, gender equality and environmental aspects. This helped the cashew processing companies make big technical and social improvements. As a result, the export of cashew kernels increased from less than 3,000 tonnes in August 2022 to more than 5,000 tonnes in August 2023. Côte d'Ivoire has now surpassed India to become the world's second-largest exporter of cashew kernels.

CBI’s consultant explains that these positive results are because of 3 success factors:

Success factor 1: CSR

"CSR is much more important in the market now than 10 years ago. An important reason for this is the EU Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. This legislation means that from 2027, all companies have to report on supply chain due diligence. The Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit (SMETA) and ISO 26000 international standard was incorporated in the CSR tool. These are important for the international market."

Success factor 2: A strong government strategy

"The government of Côte d'Ivoire has a strong strategy to increase the export of cashew kernels. It has introduced tax measures to facilitate the processing of raw cashew nuts. The government has also established the Cotton and Cashew Council (CCA). I Centre for Cashew Innovation and Technology (CITA) is part of the CCA. CITA helps companies with raw cashew nut processing. CBI’s experts worked closely with the CCA, CITA, suppliers, companies and importers. They all have the same vision for a highly successful cashew sector in Côte d'Ivoire."

Success factor 3: An enthusiastic cashew sector

"The cashew industry in Côte d'Ivoire is young and enthusiastic. It is developing fast. CBI coached 7 cashew processing companies. Their food safety levels are now up to standard, and they have made big CSR improvements. They reduced environmental pollution by removing the toxic oil compounds in the cashew shells. They gave the workers similar labour contracts and increased their salaries, some of them to a living wage. And, they also improved the working conditions, especially for many of the low-skilled, women employees. These are the CSR topics that buyers ask about. It is clear that the sector is ready for change."

Harnessing momentum

"It is really quite exceptional how well this project turned out. This is thanks to the government's strategy, the proactive approach of everyone involved and tailor-made technical expertise. Sometimes, you are just at the right place at the right time. And that was definitely the case with this project. We were able to harness the momentum of the sector. The result is directly visible in the strongly increasing export figures for cashew kernels from Côte d'Ivoire to the EU."

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