A Promising Future for the African Cashew Industry – 7th ACA Annual Conference Highlights

The high-level panel featured ministers and representatives from ten countries.

From 17-20 September, cashew stakeholders from around the world gathered in Cotonou, Benin from to attend the 7th ACA Annual Conference. The event 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 Business2Business meeting provided both first-time attendees and experienced industry players 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 2nd World Cashew Expo12, showcased processing equipment from China and Sri Lanka, as well as 20 other exhibitors.

Inside SITAB SARL, a processing facility, designed to meet international standards.

During a session on “Sustainable Ideas and Realities,” representatives from ACA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration representative, and Intersnack presented on “Food Safety and the ACA Seal.” The discussion highlighted the importance of the ACA Quality and Sustainability Seal in the push toward expanded processing in Africa.  

“Quality and safety are first and foremost on our list of concerns wherever we work in the world,” Magnesen of Kraft Foods said. “We simply will not compromise on it.”

Stakeholders across the cashew value chain support the ACA seal, as it offers a safeguard against food safety issues that could threaten the stability and success of the cashew industry. The seal will also facilitate the approval of African cashews in accordance with new U.S. laws requiring certification by an FDA-accredited body.

“We believe the ACA seal provides a great opportunity to meet the requirements of the FDA law,” said Dan Phipps of Red River Foods in the U.S.

Field trip participants visit a cashew farm.

About 100 attendees extended their conference participation beyond Cotonou to take advantage of the opportunity to see two main aspects of Benin’s cashew value chain: production and processing of raw cashew nuts. Field trip participants traveled to a 45 hectare cashew plantation in Dassa-Zoumé, where farmers have received training from ACi on grafting and intercropping to increase productivity of the site. The trip also included a visit to 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 woman president!ACA's Newly Elected 2012-2013 Executive Committee

“I want to promote the building of the National Associations in each cashew-producing country,” said Madame Taraf after being elected. “Africans can begin to interest themselves to processing. It’s an opportunity, we can’t miss that.’’

The new Executive Committee will also be comprised of 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 ACA and ARECA signed one of two MOUs facilitated during the conference. 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 l’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 sthe conference was made possible thanks to more than $210,00 in support from Platinum Sponsors ECOWAS-TEN, Kraft Foods, and African Cashew Initiative, as well as Gold sponsors Olam, Intersnack, ARECA, GIZ, USAID, and Delmas.

Missed out on all of these incredible events? Mark your calendar for the 8th World Cashew Conference and Expo, to be held 16-19 September in Lagos, Nigeria!