Borderless Alliance, in collaboration with the Global Shea Alliance (GSA), and the African Cashew Alliance (ACA) organized a one-day training workshop for stakeholders within the shea and cashew value chains in Benin. The participants were predominantly smallholder shea and cashew farmers, women cooperative groups, private sector operators as well as government agencies.
The capacity building workshop was organized under the auspices the “Industry Alliances Working Together to Empower Poor Rural Women in the Cashew and Shea Sectors” program of the USAID. It wasaimed at strengthening the capacity of actors in the value-chain such as transporters, truck drivers, customs and border control officials, port officials and entire membership of the three collaborating alliances.
At the workshop, transporters decried the lack of technical support from government and the failure of the Banks in Benin to provide credit facilities to renew their trucking fleet. Members of the Cashew Exporters Association, (CoNEC) appealed to the government to make available storage infrastructure at the Port of Cotonou for shea and cashew nuts due for export. Producers made a case for the need for technical assistance in the areas of market linkages and the local production jute sacks.
Some recommendations that emerged from the workshop include the need for the removal of non-tariff barriers, the removal of unauthorized checkpoints on the access roads linking the production areas, the need for support in form of supply of safety boot, rain coats, and weighing scale to rural women shea and cashew nut collectors. Others include the provision of tri-cycles for transporting the nuts from the farm, the provision of mini storage facilities in close proximity, the need for the rehabilitation of bridges and widening the network of access roads, provision of daily market price information through mobile phones and establishment of national regulatory coordinating ombudsman.
Among the participants were Jean-Francois Guay –Investment and Finance Specialist at the USAID West Africa Trade Hub and African Partners Network; Theophile Odounlami –representative of the Minister of Trade, Commerce and SMEs; Roland Riboux –President of the Benin National Committee of Borderless Alliance; Adamou Gilles, Global Shea Alliance Executive Committee Member and Olivier Kabre, African Cashew Alliance Senior Technical Staff. The workshop was preceded by a field trip to the major shea and cashew production zones in Benin.