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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Cashew:: exploring the cashew value chain and empowering women.

Innovations in the cashew value chain provide women the opportunity to become leaders in their families and communities. The cashew nut is delicious, nutritious, and it’s helping many African communities to build sustainable economies especially women. The cashew apple, which is actually the swollen stalk of the true fruit, while the nut is edible with a juicy red or yellow pulp underneath its fleshy exterior and a strong, sweet taste. Despite the potential of the cashew apple as food, this cashew product is traditionally discarded upon harvesting and is considered waste. In fact, there is a great deal of unseen work and “waste” that goes into preparing a trade-ready cashew nut. The nut is first separated from the apple on the farm. Then the cashews must be dried, transported to a processing center, steamed, shelled, peeled, graded and packaged. The Women Entrepreneurs in Cashew Apple Processing Project in Nigeria, an initiative funded by the Citi Foundation, seeks to increase and diversify women’s income through the use of the cashew apple. TechnoServe staff in Nigeria exploring the cashew value chain and empowering women, identified the interest of women and youth – who are largely excluded from participating in the traditional cashew harvest – in learning how to turn the cashew apple into products for local sale. Through training sessions and marketing support, TechnoServe helped 60 women from the Kwara and Kogi States to begin selling cashew plum (a dried fruit snack), cashew honey and cashew cake (locally known as kuli kuli). One of the initiative’s key results is additional income for the participants, an important additional benefit has been the feeling of empowerment gained by women within their families and communities. The project works to sustain this impact by training women to reinvest their earnings from cashew products into off-season businesses. Jemila Musa used the capital from her cashew honey and snacks in 2015 to buy a sewing machine, and established the only tailoring business in town. more