In northern Côte d’Ivoire, M’bengue’s bountiful cashew harvests have made it a strategic production center for the Société Coopérative d’Anacarde du Kafigue (SCAK), which buys raw cashews from 1,400 producers spread over 3,000 hectares there and in surrounding villages. One of them, Kassinibin Coulibaly, started cultivating cashew rather than cotton almost 20 years ago. Since starting with SCAK three years ago, he has received interest-free loans to pay his children’s school fees and complimentary fertilizer, training and advice to improve production on his eight hectares.
“They say that I have a small farm—but with a good return!” he laughed. “Since I’ve been working with SCAK, I’m more comfortable because my I manage to sell my products more easily.”
SCAK, twice honoured as Côte d’Ivoire’s leading export company, has capitalized on Côte d’Ivoire’s ideal climate for cashew growing as interest rises in trading raw cashew to European and Asian markets. As cashew prices soar, farmers have followed the demand.
With guidance from the USAID West Africa Trade and Investment Hub in 2016 and 2017, SCAK landed $2.9 million in export working capital from two Ivorian banks. In 2018, SCAK will invest this year’s profits into a cashew processing factory, with assistance from the Trade Hub’s financial advisor.
Founded by in 2014 by four cashew farming families, SCAK has quickly expanded into four regions of northern Cote d’Ivoire, from which it sources nearly 20,000 tons of raw cashew to ship to India and Vietnam. Its structured supply system is based on constant contact with its producer base and with authorized trackers responsible for defined areas. Its organization ensures quality control at each stage and precise monitoring of nuts transported from various collection sites to the economic capital, Abidjan. By maintaining constant contact with producers and emphasizing the social aspect of its work through loans and free inputs, SCAK ensures the trust and loyalty of its members.
“The social aspect is important because we want to effectively meet the needs of our producers and make them full members of SCAK,” said Donakan Issa, SCAK’s Chief Administrative Officer.
SCAK’s influence has been transformational. In Bolopekaha, village chief Tenegnigui Soro convinced the 23 families living there to grow cashew and sell to SCAK, which had helped him expand his small farm to 18 hectares and loaned him money to pay his children’s school fees.
“I was the first to invest in cashew nut production,” he said. “When they saw that I was starting to build and send my children to school, everyone followed.”