Access to Market Data and Supply Chain Visibility offer Economic Boost to Ghana Cashew Farmers

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Access to Market Data and Supply Chain Visibility offer Economic Boost to Ghana Cashew Farmers

By Mark Osborn, global lead, consumer products indus - 08/26/2015
The world’s growing appetite for energy and nut bars, premium snacks and cashew milk is driving renewed demand for cashew nuts. In addition, fast-growing countries such as India and Brazil are using more cooked and raw cashew apples in entrees, drinks and condiments.

With 2.5 million smallholder cashew farms, Africa ranks as one of the largest regions for cashews as a cash crop, and most of these farms rely on the crop as their only source of income.

Ghana, West Africa is one of the nations with significant economic potential to capitalize on regional agriculture – including cashews. But, like many countries in emerging markets, economic resources, financing and business support has been hard to come by.

Digital access to global resources support local success
Among the tools Ghanaian farmers use to manage their crops is a new secret weapon; their mobile phone.

The African Cashew initiative (ACi) is an international program focused on building a sustainable African cashew sector to reduce poverty. Co-funded by the Gates Foundation and the German Development Organization (GIZ), the groups have a goal to improve the income of 150,000 smallholder farmers.
Through a partnership with SAP, the ACi has helped roll out a prototype mobile application that gives smallholder farmers critical information on market data, pricing and historical sales information.

Designed to support visibility among smallholder farms, manufacturers and wholesale traders, famers and buyers throughout Ghana are using the app at cashew buying stations to ensure fair trade and also track and improve their own financial records. In fact, smallholder farms can leverage financial information from their past transactions as a basis for applying for micro-loans. They can use the credit to purchase assets and further their opportunity to improve crop production.

Using their mobile phone and the app, buyers and sellers scan sacks of cashews and record the weight, tied to details of the farmer supplying the cashews. The data is sent directly to the farmers’ union via smartphone. And the union, which controls the daily price for cashews, sends price information to buyers on their smartphones.

A receipt given to farmers shows the number of sacks sold and at what price. This new level of record-keeping builds trust by providing traceability in the supply chain among the farmers, traders and manufacturing companies.
Before the app, weighing, pricing and financial transactions were inconsistent.

“The app brings transparency to our working process,” Ankuma Darko, secretary of Painamisa buying station said. “Now I can get respect and trust from the farmers, because they believe I’m not misusing the money.”

Managers at the cashew union can also access a geographical information system that displays farmer contact data, farm size, location, tree inventory and price information, which makes it easier for the union to forecast and optimize cashew collection. It can also trace each cashew sack back to the original producer.

Improvements all along the supply chain
It’s not just smallholder farms in the region capitalizing on better information for a competitive, efficient process. Mim Cashew, a local cashew producer, has implemented SAP Business One to heighten its productivity. Designed for small businesses, SAP Business One software aims to automate key business functions across financials, operations and human resources.

Mim Cashew’s adoption of SAP Business One has enabled the company to access and aggregate data captured by the mobile applications used by the farmers.

Now, the production company has visibility and traceability across the entire process as cashews move from smallholder farms to processing and further along the supply chain. This insight is helpful in business planning and forecasting.

“We chose Business One for several reasons,” Lars Wallevik, managing director at Mim Cashew said. “It was a cost-effective solution. When we compared it to similar systems, we felt like we got a value for our money. It’s a comprehensive solution where you don’t need to add modules, so it’s quite easy to get started.”

As farmers, buyers and manufacturers continue to explore the use of data and technology tools they are discovering new ways to empower the industry stakeholders and optimize commerce.