The African continent is not taking advantage of the multitude of opportunities linked to the explosion of global demand. This situation is linked to the low processing capacity of the products. Only 15% of cashew nuts are processed in Africa. Faced with this, the creation of an ecosystem adapted to the marketing of local products on the world market is necessary.
As a major cashew producer, Africa is struggling to position itself in the global market, while global trade in raw cashew nuts doubled to 2.1 billion kilos between 2000 and 2018. The majority of cashew nuts are produced by Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Nigeria, Benin, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Ghana. Yet exporters on the African continent only get a fraction of the final retail price: ‘Countries that grow cashew nuts but do not process them on a significant scale retain only a small share of the value created when the nut goes from the farm to the shop’.
Currently, cashew nuts are a source of income for just over 3 million African smallholder farmers. As UNCTAD explains, twenty countries in the region produce 90% of the raw cashew nuts traded on the world market.
Unfortunately, only 15% of the nuts are actually shelled on African soil. In turn, Asia is the next destination, shelling 85% of the world’s cashew nuts. Together, India and Vietnam accounted for 98% of global imports between 2014 and 2018.
Need for a supportive ecosystem
The issue of low competitiveness of African products is the logical consequence of a number of factors. There is a real problem of processing products locally. Indeed, it is difficult to talk about processing without sufficient electricity to power local industry and even without infrastructure. The challenges facing Africa are colossal.
Taking as an example the latest initiative in the DR-Congolese agricultural sector, the creation of the « Mabele » cooperative society, he identifies several challenges facing the initiators of this first market specialising in the commercialisation of local products.
Initially, the initiators sought to recreate the entire ecosystem, integrating the loss-making distribution. First of all, it was necessary to identify the various producers of local products in order to give them a place of exhibition, in this case the first Mabele supermarket out of the 50 selected in the project for the city of Kinshasa alone.
Then, support was essential to help them develop techniques and orient them towards synergies that would increase their production and allow them to have storage centres to reduce losses. In figures, the Mabele project has achieved the master stroke of bringing together three hundred founding members who have agreed to constitute the capital of the cooperative society. It aims to create fifty supermarkets in Kinshasa.
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