The story of cashew nuts (also called cashews) in Cameroon is one of a dream that has never been realized. In order to prevent the economy of the three northern regions of Cameroon from becoming too dependent on cotton, which was then and remains the only cash crop in this part of the country, the the late Cameroonian president, Ahmadou Ahidjo, introduced the cashew nut in the northern region.
Thus, thanks to a reforestation campaign in the locality of Sanguéré, several hectares of cashew trees were planted as early as 1975. In the end, it is 10,000 hectares of planned plantations to be used to set up a cashew nut production plant and market the cashew nut (the cashew is in the form of a fruit overhung by a nut containing an almond).
42 years later, only 650 hectares of cashew trees have actually been planted, including 60 hectares in 2017 alone, thanks to an operation led by the National Agency for Forestry Development Support (Anafor), says Marie Hortense Onana, head of Anafor agency for the North. Over the next few years, Anafor aims to develop several hundred hectares of cashew trees in the Sanguéré orchard, where the CIG Ribaou also claims a little more than 100 hectares of new plantations since 2002.
With this new craze for this crop still unknown in Cameroon, despite the opportunities it has, this CIG even has a small processing unit, able to crush 1.5 tons of cashews every day. At the origin of this sort of revitalization of the Sanguéré cashew project, is the preparation by the government of a project aiming at setting up a national strategy for the development of the cashew nut sector.
According to our sources, the strategy in progress is supported by GIZ, the body in charge of implementing German cooperation, which has notably helped develop the cashew nut sector in Ghana.
“The only major cash crop here in the North is cotton. We think that, like the southern regions, we need to develop other cash crops such as the cashew nut that is adapted to the climatic realities of the northern regions. Cotton production depends on the vagaries of the climate, especially rainfall. When you have a culture like the cashew nut, which is adapted to hot areas, it’s much more interesting, “says Foudama, the regional delegate for agriculture and rural development for the North.