On the west coast of India lies the beautiful port city of Ratnagiri – a district in the largest cashew producing state of Maharashtra – where a majority of the smallholder farmers are marginalized and rely on agriculture as their main source of income. These smallholder farmers are fragmented across remote areas and face many barriers such as difficult terrain, lack of infrastructure, unreliable transportation and storage facilities. Coupled with little to no agricultural training, access to quality markets, or affordable working capital, these smallholder cashew farmers produce low yields and poor quality cashews that fetch a low price and perpetuate a vicious cycle of poverty.
Acceso Cashew Enterprise (ACE) was created to remove barriers typically faced by smallholder farmers, and link them to new quality markets. ACE provides training in agriculture best practices, including composting; provides access to inputs and educates farmers about the benefits of such inputs. As a result, the productivity and quality of their cashew crop increase significantly. ACE also purchases cashews from the farmers at a competitive-market price and consolidates, delivers, and sells the nuts directly to domestic buyers, thereby eliminating the many intermediaries known to take advantage of smallholder farmers by paying them below market prices.
As of August 2015, CGEP has worked with 2,500 farmers providing them agricultural capacity building, and handling collection, aggregation, and transport of cashews. The farmers CGEP is working with have seen increased incomes due to: 1) increased prices for higher quality nuts; 2) increased quantities of nuts harvested; and 3) elimination of multiple, inefficient intermediaries that cut into profits.