The OVOP Cashew nuts Female Group in Senegal

The OVOP Cashew nuts Female Group in Senegal

Bokk Diom is a female enterprise specializing in the processing and commercialization of cashew nut based products (roasted, salted, sweetened, paste, chocolate…). The group was established in 1987 and is comprised of 41 members, all women and dynamically dedicated in the business and social activities around the group. The main objective of this group is to contribute to the economic development of their locality while promoting female entrepreneurship. The Wolof (main local language of Senegal) group name “Bokk Diom” means “together we share the same values”.

Bokk Diom production site is located in Passy in the Region of Fatick (western part of Senegal). The area is known for its production of cashew nuts along with the southern regions. Senegal is among the top 6 main African cashew nuts producers after respectively Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Nigeria and Tanzania (Source: Africa Check - FAO). According to African Cashew Alliance Report 2016, 90% of the annual harvest in Africa is exported towards India and Vietnam for processing.

Under the One Village One Product / Un Village Un Produit (OVOP) Program in Senegal implemented by the Directorate of Craft Industry in collaboration with Japan International Agency Cooperation (JICA), the Group’s cashew nuts product was selected as Excellent OVOP 2011. This award was a major breakthrough in the group’s development phase as they received a package of support ranging from capacity building trainings (SWOT Analysis, Action Plan and Business Plan formulations, Leadership, Bookkeeping…), acquisition of processing equipment to boost the productivity while improving the quality, marketing opportunities through local and national fairs, sales opportunities at the Boutique OVOP (antenna shop of the Project established in Dakar, the capital city), acquisition of FRA Certificate (Senegal Certification for Manufacturing and Marketing Processed Foods Products) which enabled the cashew to be sold in shops and supermarkets.

It is worth underlying that Bokk Diom’s experience at the Boutique OVOP is quite unique. In fact during the shop’s early operations, the cashew nuts product from Bokk Diom was fairly appreciated by the visitors who complained about the sand in the nuts and the roasting quality. The Boutique OVOP managers directly sent the visitors’ feedbacks to the group’s Chairperson. In parallel, the marketing team of the Project designed a new label and also the packaging was improved from plastic to glass bottle. As a result, the cashew nuts sales drastically increased at the Boutique OVOP and the group succeeded to receive more orders. In order the keep good and regular sales at the Boutique OVOP, the group was recommended to preserve its best the product quality (no sand, well roasted and crunchy, full nuts). To this day, the group is still receiving regular orders from the Boutique OVOP and other customers from Senegal and abroad acquired through OVOP networking events and website.

Despite the assistance provided under the Project OVOP, Bokk Diom still faces challenges arising from the processing technique which is mainly handmade without the basic safety measures (no gloves, masks, appropriate working uniforms…) despite the high acidity level and corrosive nature of the shells which expose women to serious health risks, environmental issues due to open air roasting, fluctuations of the kernel purchasing price because of big buyers and new actors from China, Morocco, etc. General overview of the cashew nut sector in Senegal reveals present-day challenges covering among others the increase of the plantations’ production and productivity, improvement of the nut quality, support for the development of market infrastructures, creation of a business friendly environment for cashew nuts entrepreneurs… In addition, new policies and measures should be adopted to mitigate the impact of climate change and rainfall deficit.

With regards to new product / value development, it appears through our analysis that Bokk Diom and other sector related enterprises in Senegal do not fully develop the potential of the cashew nuts. Additional cashew nut based-products could be processed and introduced in the local market namely from the nuts (salted, spiced, chocolate or honey coated, granules, powder…), the kernel (fruit and juice), the oil (medicinal products, fuel in the aviation industry), cashew honey, the food recipes (yoghurt, snack and patisserie). 

An OVOP based-tourism strategy could also be developed by the Directorate of Craft Industry and the International One Village Product Partnership (IOVOP) in collaboration with other relevant agencies and the local community, as the group’s production site is located in a resort area known for its rich environmental ecosystem, cultural tradition, fishing barracudas and hunting guinea fowls…