While last year, cashew producers were delighted with prices rising above 600 CFA francs [1 USD] per kilo and 60% of the production sold easily, this year is the complete opposite. Two-thirds of the cashews produced are in search of buyers, and prices are below 200 CFA francs [0.34 USD] in several countries. The season will extend until September-October. This situation is due to the large stocks gathered in Asia last year.
So, producers are left hanging with bags of cashews, and prices have been divided by 3 compared to last year. According to Pierre Ricaud, cashew nut specialist for the analytical company NKALO, in order to avoid such a shock in the future, West Africa will need to invest in processing, like in Burkina Faso. “In Burkina Faso, for example, the processing capacity is now equivalent to about 50% of the national production. It is one of the countries in which the decline is the least brutal. Most producers were able to sell much of their production, half of it at least at a decent price.”
Processing is a solution for the future which Ivory Coast understands well. “Five years ago, there were only two factories actually running. Today, there are five fully operating and a dozen on the way. But there will need to be a dozen more factories, there is room for it. Besides, it is quite a profitable business. Today, Ivory Coast in particular benefits from large public support. There is only a need for more investors to accelerate the growth of the processing industry.”