The American Embassy in The Gambia, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service (USDAIFAS), the GOTG's Department of State for Agriculture, and Department of State for Forestry and The Environment, are proud to announce the commencement of a Food for Progress initiative designed to improve the income gained from the production and processing of cashew in The Gambia River Basin. Working through a US based NGO called International Relief and Development (IRD), the program is designed to increase the livelihoods of rural Gambians involved in the cashew trade. Given the high potential for cashews in the sub-region, the program will work with farmer's organizations, processors, and traders in the Casamance region of Senegal and Northern Guinea Bissau, as well as the South Bank of The Gambia.
International Relief and Development (IRD) is a charitable, non-profit, international nongovernmental organization (NGO) dedicated to improving lives and building livelihoods among people in the most economically deprived parts of the world. IRD, a non-political and non-sectarian organization, provides more than US $150 million annually in humanitarian assistance and works in more than 20 countries around the world.
The goal of The Gambia River Basin Cashew Value Chain Enhancement Project (CEP) is to enable 59,000 cashew farmers to maximize returns from cashew production and improve their livelihoods in the targeted regions of The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau. This will be achieved by increasing the competitiveness of the sub-regional cashew value chain. The key activities for the program will revolve around 1) Organizational Strengthening of Cashew Producers and Processors: Strengthening the organizational and entrepreneurial capacities of cashew farmers and their associations for greater control and management of cashew production, processing, and marketing; 2) Improved Cashew Production Practices: Increase productivity and quality of raw cashew nuts via the introduction and widespread use of higher yielding cashew varieties and innovative agronomic, environmental management, and post-harvest practices; and, 3) Value Added to Cashew: Expand capabilities for value addition to cashew apple and nut, and promoting increased domestic consumption as an avenue to diversify market outlets.
Expected to run for three years, the CEP will be made possible through the monetization of US refined soy oil in The Gambia, raising an estimated US$6 million for program funds. The benefits of CEP are anticipated to reach 60,000 direct beneficiaries and 413,000 indirect beneficiaries. Efforts will start with farmers who currently own and manage their own cashew plantations, either as a privately owned farm or as a communal holding. The poorest cashew farmers will be a priority, as will women's groups.
This unique program will link up with tested and established initiatives and networks in the sub region, such as The Gambia River Basin Development Organization (OMVG), USAID/Senegal's Programme Croissance Economique, and the USAID sponsored African Cashew Alliance (ACA), and West Africa Trade Hub. In The Gambia, IRD will work closely with local organizations such as the National Cashew Farmers Association and the National Farmers Platform. Likewise, farmers groups will be a focal point in Senegal and Guinea Bissau where the Association de Jeunes Agriculteurs de Ia Casamance (Senegal), and Cooperativea Lampada do Campo dos Agricultores (Guinea Bissau) will be involved.