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Small scale cashew producers in Côte d’Ivoire manage international market

Julien's picture
Submitted by Julien on Mon, 16/01/2012 - 10:33

RONGEAD is a non profit organisation in Côte d’Ivoire which helps facilitate small producers in Africa  to gain better access to markets.

In Côte d’Ivoire we transmit information on the cashew market via SMS, radios, and 6 field trainers. The project, initially financed by EU is called: "Creation of a proactive network of shared knowledge of the world market for cashew value chain in Côte d’Ivoire."

Côte d’Ivoire is the second largest exporter of raw cashews in the world (after India) generating incomes for approximately 250,000 producers. RONGEAD is regularly in contact with 9,000 producers of cashews in five regions of the country, and send 8,000 SMS every week providing up to date information on market global information, prices and trends. In addition the field trainers are crossing the country to be in direct contact with the producers. They explain the information, they adapt to every village, and they helping them to take good decision, sometimes collectives sales.

Our service could be synthesises in 5 pillars:

 Information gathering: More quality information for a better understanding

Every week field trainers collect information at different scale, farm-gate, cooperatives, wholesalers, and the analysis unit collects at national and international level. Qualitative information is also a great part of the date collection.

Gathering data allows understanding the cashew industry as a whole, and in particular:

  • to embrace local, national and international evolutions of the market
  • to perform an analysis on reliable price sources in order to anticipate their variations
  • to share intelligence with national authorities, and help them in understanding interactions with the global market

A finely grained data collection is performed on the field by 6 formatives. They gather prices and information about the market state along every week, close to many different producers within 5 regions of north Côte d'Ivoire (Denguélé, Savanes, Vallée du Bandama, Worodougou and Zanzan). They use normalized forms. Picking up more than 400 prices during the 2011 campaign allowed us to generate a map of farm gate prices week after week.

 Market Analysis: Processing raw information, a pledge for understanding

Analysing the cashew nut market relies on a keen knowledge of the industry and the global market, which allows to synthesize the bulk of weekly available information, and thus to give sharp advices about marketing risk management (prices variations, lack of partners, unfulfilled contracts, etc.). This analysis is based on gathered data as well as not quantifiable (and sometimes biased in their origins) information. It shall allow:

  • to broadcast price variation news, and to teach the industry players about their causes and mechanisms
  • to maintain a service able to anticipate, with reasonable error margins, short (week) and medium (month) term evolutions of cashew nut prices
  • to limit the risks assumed by the industry players amidst their transactions (to secure and to increase their income)

The objective of the project is not “simply to disseminate collected prices, but add elements of market understanding to help producers make their own decision”. 

 Training courses: Training ensures a good impact

Training rural target groups aims to equip them with proper tools and knowledge to understand and react well when faced to market requirements. There are four training modules:

  • The global market of cashew nut
  • Basic knowledge about supply and demand
  • Negotiate, decide, elaborate a marketing strategy
  • Tools and methods to animate and return the information to other players

At the end of these often reproduced courses, the producers, wholesalers et processors should be able to understand the information they receive, and therefore gain a better ability to manage marketing while decreasing risks.

This project has thus far provided five training modules for the producers and peasant leaders. The training modules address particular descriptions of the industry (covering main actors and relationships), an explanation for the formation and evolution of the price (including information on changes in supply and demand), and guidance on market decision making, such as when to sell and how to store goods effectively. A dozen educational materials - as shown in images here – have been developed during the project, including a role play!

 Market information: Information, right inside your pocket

The market of cashew nut greatly varies, and its tendencies evolve fast, especially for the producers. The information we broadcast allow the industry players to catch the best opportunities. It is not necessarily about earning the best margin, but mostly about securing a steady income by limiting useless risk-taking. Knowing the market well allows elaborating a long-term strategy, suitable for the producer's needs along the campaign, and encourages a good financial management.

The information also helps the producers to lean towards unity and exchange of knowledge/goals. This then promote collective actions, e.g. negotiation of a minimum price for a whole village, or to consider group-selling as a bulk for better price (economies of scale, decrease of the number of intermediates). During the 2011 campaign, 4000 metric Tonnes of raw cashew nuts have been sold by 7000 producers organized in groups (that to say about 600 Kg per producer).

This service offers to broadcast the information through 5 major channels:

  • a weekly news bulletin, transmitted by e-mail to over a hundred industry players, and by paper to the cooperatives with no internet access
  • weekly text messages to 280 leader peasant and 8,000 producers
  • programs on 6 local radio broadcasters
  • word of mouth between leader peasants and local producers
  • the constant availability (in person or by phone) of a region's formative to give personalized advices

 Supporting the industry players : A warranty of success

“it is necessary to assist producers receiving the information to promote their own decision making and avoid counter-productive misunderstandings” Support as we see it an important service to provide aside a MIS (Market Information System). As a matter of fact, the support/advice role assumed by the formatives promotes relevant strategies for each producer or processor, eases the decision-making when facing a buying or selling operation, and stimulates reflection, information exchange as well as common marketing at a village scale. Plus it has helped create relationships of solidarity between local producers. In the past, relationships have been diminished following the stigma affecting certain cooperatives, and the climate of suspicion within a sector perceived as opaque and unstructured. Therefore, it is good to find positive projects which counteract this.