Commonly referred to as grey gold , the cashew nut is becoming a flagship product for the ivorian economy in recent years. The ever-increasing figures of cashew nuts production and exportations are clear evidence of our country’s leading position in the market for this raw material. Thus in 2015, when Ivory Coast became the leading african producer of cashew nuts, harvests reached 625,000 tons according to Young Africa citing the Reuters agency. Exports brought in 337 billion CFA francs or 514 million Euros, according to the same source. Thanks to these figures, the African continent was able to position itself as the new “El Dorado” of the cashew nut. In addition, it should be pointed out that the Covid crisis which hit the entire world and the agricultural market had a small effect on the 2020 Ivorian campaign, as evidenced by the 800,000 tons harvested, to quote the figures from the African cashew alliance. This organization in a dated report from March 21st 2021 predicted that the african production will reach 2.1 million tons in 2021, with 900,000 tons produced by Ivory Coast. The place occupied by Ivory Coast on the cashew market is the result of the efforts of the Ivorian government, but especially the farmers and private actors such as Prime prestige.
Indeed, the cashew nut was implanted in the north of the country in the 1960s to fight against the advance of the desert.
It was only in the period between 1990 and 1995 that the local population saw the cashew nut as an alternative to the traditional cash crop of the north of the country that is cotton, under the impetus of foreign buyers. The adoption of the cashew nut as the main cash crop in the north has been gradual. There are several reasons justifying it. First of all, the fact that the cashew nut tree is robust enough and is adapted to the dry climate of the northern region of the country. In addition to this comes the need for an eco-friendly transition which is motivated by the adaptation to the depletion of forest rent and climate change.
The significant impact of the stagnation in the prices of cotton and cocoa, combined with the increase in chemical inputs used in the production of these two crops are also noteworthy.The cashew provides producers with a financial windfall that allows them to save money in addition to offering many ecological benefits.
The early 2000s marked the interest of the Ivorian government for the cashew nut through measures of regulation of the cashew industry, in order to fix the troubles emerging in this field. These measures include the 2002 ordinance on the regulatory and institutional framework of the cotton and cashew field , the creation of the regulatory authority for cotton and cashew (ARECA), then the support of professionals in the cashew field until the creation in 2007 of the INTERCAJOU structure.
However, this framework could not prevent the occurrence of disagreement within INTERCAJOU caused by management concerns, thus causing tensions between the actors in the sector. This will lead to the 2011 Ordinance on Inter-Professional Agricultural Organizations. In addition to this, the early of 2010’s were marked by the suspension of the INTERCAJOU and the replacement in 2013 of the ARECA by the CCA (Cotton and Cashew Council). The contribution of the private structures involved in the field of cashew, Which includes Prime prestige is not to be forgotten since they are acting as intermediaries between local producers and the international market. Producer cooperatives are also major players in the cashew market, as they are means of protection and a strength for farmers. It is important to know that despite this set of provisions and structures governing the cashew sector, it faces many difficulties. Smuggling, the refusal of certain buyers to pay the market price, the non-industrialisation of the industry are among the problems facing these players and so many challenges to make it even more dynamic.