The Gambia Launches New Cashew Sector Strategy

On June 18th in Banjul, The Gambia inaugurated its new cashew and sesame sector strategies as a joint endeavor of the International Trade Center (ITC), the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment.  This launch served as part of the Sector Competitiveness and Export Diversification Project, which was officially established in 2012 for the purpose of strengthening the capacity of Gambian small- and medium-sized enterprises to export value-added goods to the global market. 

This event also marked the creation of the Trade Information Reference Center (TIRC), which provides access to business linkages and contact bases, market trends, trade agreements, product and market studies, and business opportunities and events.  According to Ashish Shah, the ITC Director of the Division of Country Programs, the Center was established through an inclusive process that necessitated the close collaboration of both the private and public sectors, and will now serve as a platform through which stakeholders at all levels of the value chain will gain access to crucial information.

The processes that led to the establishment of the TIRC impacted the new Gambian cashew export strategy.  Ultimately, this new approach seeks to support the diversification of Gambian exports by increasing commodity value addition, and by expanding market destinations through the development and sale of products.  The Gambia has been ranked as the world’s 15th largest exporter of raw cashew nut (RCN), 95% of which is exported directly to India.  

With the advent of greater business linkages through the TIRC and the renewed national cashew strategy, The Gambia can expect to see its cashew industry become more competitive in the global market.  This new approach will equip The Gambia to allocate resources more strategically, and to better coordinate trade-related technical assistance to comply with the priorities highlighted by national stakeholders.  To ensure that the new cashew strategy is implemented effectively, a National Coordination Committee was established, representing both public and private interests, and supervising cashew-related activities as they are rolled out.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Mrs. Naffie Barry, informed the gathering that the launch of this strategy marks the first time that the cashew industry has ever had an official guiding document.  She went on to add thatthe sector’s protection and productivity will thus gain greater focus and stimulate better structural interventions.  The President of the Cashew Alliance of The Gambia (CAG), Momodou A. Ceesay, a partner of the ACA, expressed his excitement that this dynamic sector had finally attracted national attention.  Mr. Ceesay explained that the importance of cashew in The Gambia is rapidly increasing, as it is now the fastest growing export crop in the country.