The 6th Annual Conference of the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), held in Banjul, The Gambia, was one of the largest meetings of cashew industry players ever. Themed “Bringing the Cashew World Together,” the conference attracted more than 360 participants from 33 countries around the globe – a 75% increase in attendance compared to the previous year’s conference. Stakeholders from all points along the cashew value chain were represented, from smallholder farmers to industry-leading cashew processors and buyers from the United States, Europe, Brazil, India, and Vietnam. Local and international NGOs, development agencies, and government representatives also participated in the event.
60 international experts presented their unique insights into the latest industry trends. 15 different sessions offered public discussions and demonstrations on topics including innovative farming techniques to improve production volume and quality, new market opportunities, the latest innovations in cashew processing technology, and strategies to increase access to finance.
The conference featured the debut of the first ever World Cashew Expo, an exhibition of 30 cashew service providers, national cashew associations, and equipment manufacturers. Three machinery exhibitors displayed and sold cutting-edge technology for shelling, peeling, and grading to African processors, enabling considerable investments in processing upgrades and expansions. One exhibitor, Cao Thanh Phat Company from Vietnam, described the expo as “an opportunity to introduce to valued customers our solutions for cashew processing…We believe our experience will help us to play a role in the development of cashew processing in general, and in Africa in particular.”
More than 300 business-to-business meetings were also organized, matching potential business partners and facilitating intercontinental deals. Meeting key international contacts was invaluable for many conference participants. A trader from Ghana stated, “I have met manufacturers of equipment and importers of both raw and processed cashew. Because of this my business will definitely be expanded in the cashew sector.”
The 6th ACA Annual Conference received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants. A Gambian cashew farmer expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to attend the conference: “We have learned so much from the interactions we have had with other participants and it is now very clear in our heads that cashew is a business.”
ACA members can see the full list of Festival participants here.