TechnoServe, Olam train 6,000 cashew farmers

TechnoServe, a Washington-based poverty eradication organisation, in partnership with Olam Nigeria, has trained 6,000 cashew farmers of which 3,000 are women.

The programme, which took place at Ayangba, Kogi State, is aimed at empowering, and expected to impact positively on cashew farmers in Nigeria.

Ade Adefeko, Olam’s head corporate and government relations, said the farmers were drawn from Kogi, Kwara and Oyo states, known for their high level of cashew production and that the training was made possible through a grant from the Walmart Foundation.

The expected impact would be in form of adoption of good agronomic practices and improved methods for harvest and post-harvest handling of raw cashew nuts among others. Cashew production currently accounts for more than a third of household income in Kogi State alone, according to an independent research conducted by TechnoServe.

TechnoServe estimates that the new farming practices would translate into an estimated 20 percent increase in yields and improved quality of cashew nut production. The production estimates are for targeted households in the three Nigerian key cashew producing states.

According to Shakti Pal, regional cashew expert for TechnoServe, cashew farming is one of the most economically important crops in West Africa, yet its potential has not yet been fully realised.

In Nigeria alone, an estimated 125,000 households are engaged in cashew farming, but they lack the knowledge to improve their yields and maximise their incomes, he said, saying “through this programme these farmers will have access to the training needed to improve the quality of their product and in turn the quality of their lives.”

TechnoServe is collaborating with Olam so that through the training programme, a total of 25 trainers from 25 different villages throughout Kogi, Kwara and Oyo states, will receive comprehensive training on relevant topics.

Trainers also learnt how to tap into the collective power of farmer groups to link up directly with Olam, a leading global buyer and processor of agricultural products.

According to a release from the firm, the trainers would pass on the knowledge and expertise to other farmers in their states. Olam operates Nigeria’s largest cashew processing plant in Ilorin, Kwara State.

The Cashew Farmer Training initiative is one of several that TechnoServe currently operates in Nigeria, apart from a regional programme working to raise the yields and incomes of the nation’s cocoa farmers.

TechnoServe works with enterprising people in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. It is a non-profit organisation that develops business solutions to poverty by linking people to information, capital and markets.

Olam Nigeria, a subsidiary of Olam International, was founded in the country in 1989, with cashew as its first product.

Olam International is now a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients. The company with its headquarters in Singapore supplies various products across 16 platforms to over 12,300 customers worldwide and has a supply network of over 3.5 million farmers, the majority of whom are small-scale.

Olam’s importance in the cashew industry is enhanced by its unique position as the only company to have significant interests in each segment of the product value chain.

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