Solidaridad & Partners Commission Waterloo Women’s Cashew Processing Factory

With EU Support…

By Foday Moriba Conteh

In a bid to modernize cashew processing methods, promoting efficiency, hygiene, and safety among over 300 women and youth engaged in local cashew processing within the Waterloo enclave of Sierra Leone, Solidaridad West Africa and Cotton Tree Foundation Sierra Leone, under the Boosting Agriculture and Food Security (BAFS) Project funded by the European Union, has on Tuesday 26th March, 2024 commissioned the Waterloo Women’s Cashew Processing Factory for the Waterloo Cashew Women Processors and Sellers Association. The facility, occupying 1 acre of land allocated by the Government of Sierra Leone, is a model mini cashew processing facility located at Newton in the Western Area Rural District.

In his welcome remarks, the Country Representative for Solidaridad Sierra Leone, Andrew Kojo Morrison, reflected on the journey leading to the establishment of the facility, highlighting the collaborative efforts of Solidaridad West Africa and the Cotton Tree Foundation Sierra Leone under the Boosting Agriculture and Food Security (BAFS) project which he added is  aimed to develop a vibrant and profitable cashew economy in Sierra Leone, driven by private supply chain actors within a national regulatory framework.

Andrew Morrison emphasized the importance of value addition in the cashew sector, citing the potential to attract investors and promote economic growth and job creation. He underscored the environmental benefits of cashew trees and called for increased investment in the cashew value chain. The completion of the cashew processing facility signifies a significant step towards sustainable development and economic empowerment in communities within the Waterloo, Newton, and its environs.

Acknowledging the contributions of partners and stakeholders, he expressed gratitude to all involved in the project’s success more especially the European Union that funded the project. He encouraged attendees to support local cashew products and highlighted the nutritional benefits of cashew nuts.

Yatta Samah, the President of the National Farmers Federation Sierra Leone, expressed gratitude to Solidaridad’s efforts in capacity building across various agriculture sectors, highlighting Solidaridad’s work in collaboration with farmers across the country, particularly in the rice, sugar, oil palm, cocoa and now cashew sectors, aligning with the Government’s Big Five Feed Salone initiative.

Emphasizing the significant role of women in agriculture, with 75% of farming activities in Sierra Leone being carried out by women, Samah underscored the importance of the cashew processing factory in improving the socioeconomic status of cashew farmers, especially women.

Isaac Gyamfi, Regional Director of Solidaridad West Africa, in his statement expressed delight at being part of the commissioning of the cashew processing factory. He provided insights into Solidaridad’s global operations, spanning 50 countries across five continents, with a focus on various agricultural sectors, including cocoa, oil palm, cashew, coffee and food crops.

Expressing gratitude to the European Union for their funding support, Isaac highlighted the collaborative efforts between Solidaridad, the Cotton Tree Foundation, and other stakeholders in making the project a reality. He emphasized the importance of cooperation in achieving sustainable agricultural development.

Isaac Gyamfi then shifted the focus to Solidaridad’s achievements in Sierra Leone, particularly in the cashew sector. He highlighted the successful transfer of cashew seedlings from Ghana to Sierra Leone, as well as similar initiatives in the cocoa and coffee sectors. He further underscored the importance of timely planting to ensure the viability of seedlings.

On his part, Manuel Müller, Head of the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, commended the efforts of Solidaridad West Africa and the Cotton Tree Foundation Sierra Leone in securing the Boosting Agriculture and Food Security (BAFS) grant to implement the project, highlighting the significance of the event in the development of Sierra Leone’s agricultural sector and emphasized the European Union’s commitment to supporting initiatives aimed at strengthening agriculture and improving livelihoods.

The commissioning of the cashew processing factory represents a critical step in completing the cashew value chain in Sierra Leone, providing a safe and hygienic environment for women and youth involved in the cashew processing sector.

Müller emphasized the importance of sustainable ownership and governance of the factory, acknowledging the role of the Steering Committee in ensuring alignment with national development goals and the Management Committee in executing project plans effectively.

Head of the European Delegation extended appreciation to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Western Area Rural District Council, Solidaridad West Africa, the Cotton Tree Foundation and all stakeholders involved in the project also reaffirming the EU’s commitment to supporting Sierra Leone’s development journey and promoting sustainable economic growth, food security, and poverty reduction.

He expressed optimism for the continued success of the cashew processing factory and its positive impact on the lives of Sierra Leoneans, particularly women and youth in rural communities.

Giving his keynote address, Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka, the Minister of Agriculture, emphasized the importance of reserving land in Newton to enable the establishment of similar facilities in the future.

Acknowledging the European Union’s significant investment in the project, Minister Kpaka highlighted the partnership between the EU and the Government of Sierra Leone in initiatives such as the Sierra Leone Access to Finance Project, aimed at providing credit facilities and crop insurance to farmers.

He also commended Solidaridad for their contributions, particularly in providing high-quality planting materials and implementing the project efficiently, noting the long journey leading to the commissioning of the cashew processing factory and emphasized the collaborative efforts between Government agencies and partners in achieving success.

Reflecting on the significance of the project, Minister Kpaka underscored its role in advancing Sierra Leone’s agricultural sector, particularly in the production of cashew, cocoa, and coffee. He emphasized the importance of these cash crops in supporting the Government’s Feed Salone strategy and doubling export earnings.

Minister Kpaka highlighted the potential of the cashew processing factory to create job opportunities, particularly for women and youth, thereby contributing to economic development and poverty reduction. He emphasized the need for continued collaboration between Government and partners to further develop the agricultural sector and create sustainable livelihoods for Sierra Leoneans.

Climaxing the ceremony was the official commissioning of the Waterloo Women’s Cashew Processing Factory by Manuel Müller, Head of the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, Dr. Henry Musa Kpaka, the Minister of Agriculture and other dignitaries present followed by the handing over of Tricycles and Motorbikes.


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