Matsangoni Cashew Tree Improvement Pilot Project


Matsangoni Cashew Tree Improvement Pilot Project

In late 2020, EFF held a landmark workshop in Kwale County along the coast of Kenya. This brought together stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture, administrative representatives from all the 6 coastal counties, NGOs, financiers, agro-dealers, and farmers. The question that was discussed over two days was the reasons behind the decline of Kenya’s cashew industry, and potential solutions for its revival. The result of this was the endorsement of EFF’s long-term strategic involvement along the Coast to attempt to bring back glory to Kenya’s cashew sector.

To kickstart, the Foundation designed and implemented a pilot aimed at evaluating the health status of the existing cashew trees, which number approximately 2 million as per the last census conducted in 2009. From May to November 2021, EFF conducted a baseline and onboarded 1,500 farming households in Matsangoni ward. Just over 50,000 older and largely unproductive cashew trees received targeted interventions that included regimens of administering fertilisers and agro-chemicals to tackle prevalent pests and diseases, About 25 youth from Matsangoni were trained in these interventions and provided the necessary equipment.

The results were remarkable: the targeted trees demonstrated a 25% improvement in productivity and overall nut quality. However, from the current low yields of cashew, it was also concluded that farmers could not always generate enough cash to afford the inputs and services required to look after their older trees. The decision was made to pivot to investing in new plantations and bringing in high yield variety seedlings from Tanzania, whose cashew is a globally prized commodity.

Agricultural Productivity: Enhance agricultural productivity through sustainable and climate-smart practices, improved access to quality seeds, fertilisers, and modern technologies, and training for small-scale farmers. b. Irrigation and Water Management: Promote water conservation techniques, efficient irrigation systems, and integrated water resource management to ensure a reliable water supply for agriculture. c. Diversification: Encourage crop diversification to enhance food availability and household nutrition by promoting the cultivation of smart food crops and high-value crops for increased income generation. d. Storage and Distribution: Strengthen post-harvest management and improve storage infrastructure to reduce household food losses; and promote efficient aggregation systems for improved inputs distribution and access to markets. e. Market Linkages & Financial Services: Support the establishment or farmer cooperatives/ organisations for effective produce aggregation and market linkages, and provide technical assistance to enable small-scale producers to access domestic and international markets and financial services, fostering income generation and economic growth. f. Skills Training and Capacity Building: Facilitate agronomic training, entrepreneurship development, and business management skills to enhance the capacity of smallholder farmers and communities to generate sustainable incomes.
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