Ouattara Oyala is happy that farming cashew nuts in Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivory Coast, now allows her to save money for her children’s education. “I am now able to take care of myself and my family,” she says.
She says her dream is to enable her children to be educated and become successful in life, benefitting both her and the community – one of 87 rural villages in West Africa’s Ivory Coast where farmers work with Cajooma SAS, the farming branch of Cashew Coast.
When she joined the village cooperative that Cashew Coast helped set up, the company trained her and taught her how to pick the best-quality cashews in order to fetch the highest prices.
Oyala has worked with Cashew Coast, a leading producer and distributor of high-quality cashew nuts for the past two years. Before that she worked alone. Now she works with other women in small groups, and that makes it easier to work. “I was alone, now we are working together,” she says.
Video by Rana Hamzakadi and Matt Dillman
Ivory Coast is one of the world’s largest producers of cashew nuts, thanks to farmers like Oyala who, together with her fellow plot owners and farmers, pick the yellow and orange cashew fruit off the forest floor. Once harvested, the farmers must separate the nuts from the fruit they grow.
Unlike other companies that ship the raw nuts out of the country for processing, Cashew Coast process their nuts within Ivory Coast, lowering the carbon footprint. Nuts go directly from local farmers to Cashew Coast’s central warehouse in Bouaké to be sorted, weighed, and bagged before being sent to Cashew Coast’s organic factory in Azaguié for processing.
Until recently, Cashew Coast kept paper-based records of the farm-side of the process, but as the industry grew it became more and more difficult to keep track of the data and analyze it. Cashew Coast executives turned to SAP for help when they realized that they needed a more advanced system to track the cashews from farm to processing plant — and eventually to table.
Joel Bagbila, Cashew Coast’s farmer integration director, explains that the company also has a loftier ambition. “Our mission is to be the first country worldwide in terms of production and quality,” he says.
To help achieve this goal, Cashew Coast chose to implement SAP Rural Sourcing Management, an industry cloud solution built on the SAP Business Technology Platform, at its Cajooma SAS branch. Cashew Coast’s digital transformation journey provides immediate benefits to the farmers, including more transparent prices, and enables the company to control quality and make much more timely decisions.
In the future it will also enable retailers to gain traceability and visibility into the origin of the cashew nuts and provide transparency to their consumers – connecting farmers and consumers in a profitable and sustainable value chain.
“Today, for a customer, it’s important to know where the product he or she is ready to buy, is coming from,” says Achta Cherif, head of quality at Cashew Coast. “Having this information enables the customer to make his/her choice. This is important for us, as well.”
Cashew Coast executives say they chose SAP’s cloud technology because it offered a number of key advantages. “We wanted the best in class, and we wanted to deal with the developer team as opposed to a third-party integrator – which SAP Rural Sourcing Management offers,” says Salma Seetaroo, co-founder and CEO of Cashew Coast.
She says the implementation went surprisingly smoothly. “The SAP implementation team were flexible and quick to understand our need – they were a bunch of millennials who loved working on a project like ours. And it was just great fun and I never expected it to be as smooth.”
SAP is now remotely training two recent graduate recruits at Cashew Coast – Technology Manager Mohamed Traoré and Sales and Sustainability Manager Rose Koffi – to continue phase 2 of the SAP Rural Sourcing Management implementation. Going forward, Salma explains, the company wants to bring more traceability to agricultural products in Ivory Coast with SAP technology.
So, the next time you grab a handful of cashew nuts, consider this: there is a good chance they started their journey in the Ivory Coast and just maybe were picked up from the forest floor by Oyala or one of her friends.
This article first appeared on the SAP News Center.