A Promising Future for the African Cashew Industry – 7th ACA Annual Conference Highlights
“The Future is Now!” The 7th African Cashew Alliance Annual Conference and the World Cashew Expo12 took place at the Palais des Congrès in Cotonou, Benin from 17-20 September 2012.
This was the world’s biggest cashew event to date, with more than 500 registered participants from 36 countries. Keynote speakers, sector-specific workshops, and hundreds of business-to-business meeting provided both experienced industry players and first-time attendees with key information and tools to facilitate the continued development of the African cashew industry.
Conference participants had the opportunity to learn from 90 speakers presenting in 26 workshops and panels, on topics ranging from finance and investment to small-scale processing. Ministers and ministerial representatives from ten countries were also in attendance, including Hon. Madina Sephou, Benin’s Minster of Industry, Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises. The high-level panel during the Plenary Session, “Today’s Challenges for Tomorrow’s Industry,” included participants from Benin, Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, The Gambia, Senegal, Mozambique, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Another feature of the conference, the World Cashew Expo, welcomed 22 exhibitors from around the world showcasing the very latest in cashew processing technology.
About 100 attendees travelled beyond Cotonou on Festival-organized field trips to see two key aspects of Benin’s cashew value chain, production and processing. Some field trip participants visited a 45-hectare cashew plantation in Dassa-Zoumé, where farmers have received training from the African Cashew Initiative (ACi) on grafting and intercropping to increase productivity, while others visited SITAB SARL, a newly-opened cashew processing factory designed to meet the highest international standards of processing, hygiene, and safety.
The leadership of ACA underwent an evolution in Cotonou, as a result of the Executive Committee Elections held on September 18. Votes from 88 Core Members elected the 2012-2013 Executive Committee, which will be led by Madame Georgette Taraf, ACA’s first female president. The new Executive Committee will also comprise two vice presidents – Kofi Yao Appia of Côte d’Ivoire and Edgar Maokola-Majongo of Tanzania – as well as Tola Faseru of Nigeria, Jace Rabe of the United States, V. Rajkumar of India, and Patrick Wainaina of Kenya.
The conference also provided an opportunity for cooperation among cashew associations. The National Cashew Association of Nigeria (NCAN) and ACA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate promotion of the cashew industry in Nigeria. The agreement outlines a framework that will guide institutional development, exchange of information, and implementation of programs for cashew business development. ACA and Côte d’Ivoire’s Autorité de Regulation du Coton et de l’Anacarde (ARECA) signed a similar MOU focused on promoting the development of the Ivorian cashew industry.
The huge success of the Festival and Expo was made possible in great part thanks to the support of Platinum Sponsors ECOWAS-TEN, Kraft Foods, and African Cashew Initiative, and Gold sponsors Olam, Intersnack, ARECA, GIZ, USAID, and Delmas.
ACA members can see the full list of Festival participants here.