First producer and exporter of raw cashew nuts in the world, Côte d’Ivoire evolves in rank in the transformation of the nut into kernel. The country has indeed passed Brazil and thus becomes the 3rd largest cashew processor in the world after Vietnam and India.
” Our country has become the 1st cashew nut processing country in Africa, and the 3rd in the world in 2021 with 136,854 tons produced, while maintaining its position as world leader in cashew nut production and export with 805,748 tons exported. “said the Ivorian government in the communiqué of the Council of Ministers of Wednesday, January 26, 2022.
This excellent processing record came on the heels of a historic harvest period for the nut. In fact, despite the Covid-19 context, the provisions implemented in 2021 have made it possible to record convincing results marked by price compliance. As a result, producers’ revenues will increase by more than 14% from 297 billion CFA francs in 2020 to 339 billion in 2021.
Obviously, this performance is a source of satisfaction for the Ivorian government in its policy to strengthen the sector’s players by improving agricultural practices. However, major challenges remain in order to establish an industry driven by local operators.
Thus, faced with the lack of financing adapted to their needs, these operators are weakened by the competition from Asian countries.
Moreover, if the country’s ambition is to transform 50% of its crop by 2025, government support must be consolidated.
On February 4, the 2022 season opens with a minimum price of 305 Fcfa/kg. Note that this rate is the same as last year’s. On the other hand, the government has announced a production target of 1.04 million tons of cashew nuts for this new year. And the Cotton Cashew Council (CCA) plans to process about 30% of the crop, or 300,000 tons of cashew nuts.
As a reminder, the cashew nut industry employs approximately 400,000 producers. It represents the 3rd sector of the agricultural sector behind cocoa and natural rubber.
A growing sector over time
Introduced in the 1960s on the African continent to combat desertification and soil erosion, cashew resists extreme weather conditions. During the 1970s, Côte d’Ivoire produced about 300 tons of cashew nuts per year, a volume that stagnated for several decades before taking off again in the early 2000s. In 2002, the annual production evolved at an ascending rate and crossed the 1000 tons mark thanks to an exponential demand from Vietnam and India which alone import more than half of the Ivorian production. Since 2015, the world’s leading cocoa producer has also become the world’s leading supplier of cashew nuts.
The transformation challenge
However, despite the strong demand on the international market, the living conditions of Ivorian and African producers have not changed. This state of affairs is due to the fact that, for lack of processing, Côte d’Ivoire has for too long exported a product with low added value. While local processing could have helped boost the country’s economy. This is why the Ivorian government, in accordance with its agro-industrial policy based on the transformation of local production, is multiplying tax incentives to support the structuring of the cashew nut industry.
In 2020, gross cashew production reached one million tons for the first time – up from 850,000 in 2019 – according to official figures. But only 10% of this production was processed on site.
Raw cashew nuts are nowadays mainly exported to India, Vietnam and Brazil, where there are processing industries.
While the national production has just crossed the million tons, it is now a question of capitalizing this asset by its transformation and its conditioning.
With this record, Côte d’Ivoire is taking off and integrating into global value chains. Even if the country is still far behind Vietnam and India, its position on the world market is already a major asset, especially with the diversification of its export outlets.