Sierra Leone cashew producer wins Indian market with first sale since COVID-19 pandemic
Balmed Holdings Ltd., a leading Sierra Leone agriculture company, has recently struck a deal to sell over 55 metric tonnes of raw cashew nuts to an international buyer based in India. This new sale is a tremendous success as it was the company’s first in 2021, generating essential revenue, including for the 200 farmers (70% of them women) who supply the cashew nuts.
International sales had collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic until Balmed participated in the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades West Africa project.
“In 2021, our business was struggling to export our raw cashew nuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SheTrades West Africa was able to assist us, connecting us to a new buyer,” says Victoria Bangura, store manager and trainer at Balmed.
SheTrades West Africa has been working with Balmed since 2019, and recently provided coaching and training on gender-sensitive value chain development and data management to increase the outreach to women farmers in the supply chain. Balmed is organic-certified, opening new niche market opportunities which can unlock premium prices for Balmed and the farmers in its supply chain.
The cashew sector in Sierra Leone
The cashew sector in Sierra Leone is still in its infancy, although cashew production has increased rapidly in recent years. The crop is a priority for the government with international demand for cashew expected to rebound as the COVID-19 pandemic eases. Moreover, the crop is relatively drought resistant and thus suited to the Sierra Leone climate.
SheTrades West Africa has been promoting smallholder cashew production and strengthening the sector’s governance to increase exports and profitability. This will generate foreign exchange for Sierra Leone, create jobs and improve farmers’ incomes.
About the project
The SheTrades West Africa project, financed by the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), is a four-year project (2019-2023) designed to improve the lives of 10,000 women in the cashew, shea and cassava value chains in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. The project is being implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the framework of the SheTrades Initiative with active participation of national service providers.