The African Cashew Alliance (ACA) will hold its 15th annual cashew conference from 15th – 17th September 2021 and side events from 20th – 24th September 2021 fully online.

This year’s annual conference will be under the theme, a sustainable cashew supply chain for the future, and will feature prominent and renounced cashew supply chain actors within Africa and beyond.

The theme for this year’s conference, according to the Managing Director (MD) of the ACA, Ernest Mintah, has been inspired by lessons learnt from the outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic and the impacts it had on the global cashew supply chain.

He explained that, while the cashew industry was not hugely affected by the pandemic as was initially feared, it has exposed some deficiencies in the global cashew supply chain that requires fixing.

“The Covid 19 pandemic exposed the industry to a lot of looming problems. The major one is the imperfect cashew supply chain where raw cashews are produced in Africa, exported to Asia for processing and then to Europe and America for consumption. This supply chain is specifically too long and may not be able to resist future shocks in the industry. It also means that Africa will continue to be a mere producer of raw cashew and will benefit less in the huge potential of the industry,” he explained.

This, he said, has necessitated the need for discussions among cashew stakeholders to improve the global cashew supply chain into one that is financially, economically, and socially sustainable and beneficial to the entire global industry.

“We need to shorten the cashew supply chain by processing at (or) closer to origin. And that means cashew processing must be improved in Africa, where over 57% of global cashew is produced. This is necessary to sustain the global cashew industry,” he emphasized.

This year’s cashew conference, according to the ACA’s Head of Communication, Blessing Okam, is aimed at fostering discussions among major stakeholders of the cashew industry on creating a sustainable cashew supply chain for the future.

The conference, she said, will therefore feature several speakers and panellists, from value chain actors to policy makers, to development partners of the global cashew industry.

Key speakers at the opening ceremony will include Ghana’s deputy minister for Food and Agriculture, Yaw Frimpong Addo, Burkina Faso’s minister of Commerce, Industry and Handicraft, Harouna Kabore, Cameroon’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mbairobe Gabriel. Others are Benin’s Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Gaston Dossouhoui and Vice President cum Trade Promotions Director of the Vietnamese Cashew Association (VINACAS), Trans Van Hiep.

According to Blessing, the opening ceremony will be followed by several sessions which will discuss the cashew industry into details and find amicable solutions to the challenges it faces, especially with the supply chain and processing in Africa.

“The sector ministers will be telling cashew stakeholders what measures and policies have been put in place in their respective countries to ensure the growth of the cashew industry, especially in cashew processing, and what they are doing together at the continental level to grow the industry. This will serve as a good ground for the main sessions to discuss progress made and what needs to be done to improve the cashew supply chain” Blessing said.

“The main conference will have four sessions: A plenary session on the conference theme which will be moderated by Jim Fitzpatrick with a panel made up of cashew experts from Intersnack International, Long Son, Ivoirienne Noix de Cojou, Shelter for Life and ComCashew. There will be two simultaneous sessions on the second day, one focussing on production with a panel made up of representatives from eight (8) cashew producing countries, and the second will focus on sustainable cashew processing and supply linkages with a panel made up of experts from ANATRANS, Cajou Espoir and Condornuts.  The last session will be on the third day and will focus on enabling conducive policy environment for the cashew industry, with a panel made up of representatives of the various cashew regulatory structures in African countries, including the Tree Crops Development Authority (TCDA),” she elaborated.

The side events, she said, include insightful discussions on the role of development partners in the cashew industry, access to finance, and cashew electronic services.

“There will also be a cashew woman training workshop, a discussion on quality and marketing and the last day will be MTP alumni day,” she added.