The Sustainable Nut Foundation (SNI)
The Sustainable Nut Initiative was set up by a number of dedicated private sector actors. The SNI has the objective to stimulate sustainability in the nut sector. SNI provides the nut sector various tools that can support all actors in the supply chain to meet this objective. The first tool to stimulate productivity and quality is 3S. The system is currently operating in cashew but will soon be ready to operate in a range of different nut chains.
3S in practise: Tracing, analyzing and improving cashew supply.
Cashew roasters and processors need to meet the growing demand for high quality and sustainable cashews for retailers in Europe and the USA. For this reason, many projects have been initiated to increase production and quality in various African countries. 3S provides information to monitor the flow of product “from farm to fork”, to measure the impact of these projects and to steer the project activities.
Transparency in the chain catalyses sector improvements. Often processors in importing countries buy cashews in bulk from traders, without knowing who produced and processed the product and in which circumstances this happened. This way of working makes it impossible to identify, engage and support the farmers. How to increase production without knowing who produces the nuts and what support the farmers need? And once the money of the project has been spent, how to determine the return on investment and how to ensure that the generated learnings can be used in other sourcing regions?
3S – Sustainable Supply System
The system has been endorsed by ComCashew (African Cashew initiative – ACi). In the cashew supply chain, 3S provides benchmarking information on the quality and quantity of the product delivered by the farmers to the African processors so that the content of Farmer Field Schools meet neatly the needs of the farmers. Moreover, farmer lots of Raw Cashew Nuts (inshell cashews) that are shelled and finally delivered as cashew kernels to the snack or ingredient processor are recorded in 3S to provide traceability. Besides operational data, also sustainability data can be recorded.
As a roaster in the USA or RCN processor in Vietnam, India or one of the African countries, by using 3S you can determine exactly from which farmer group your cashews come. A collection of data on productivity, quality and sustainability criteria also allows you to benchmark performance between farmer groups. That way you know exactly which farmers have most potential and which ones need additional training.
Since farmer data is collected year on year, in every harvesting season, you can analyse production developments over time and assess the effectiveness of your investments. The level of detail of information depends on the agreements made between the partners in the chain.
The business case: opening markets
While the primary benefit of 3S is to increase, improve, and monitor cashew supply, the traceability of the system also opens the door to markets with higher demands on quality, food safety and sustainability. The system is meant as an internal sector improvement system. Existing certificates and standards however can easily be integrated into the system. More importantly; it enables retailers to tell the story of African cashew: “These cashews were grown in the north-east of Côte d’Ivoire, where cashews are the primary source of income for most farmers. Since 2012, we have been training villagers to grow more and better cashews for you.”
Building sustainable relationships
Next to being a management information system, 3S facilitates a fundamental shift in procurement practices and the relationship between farmers and processors. Instead of buying cashews on the market through middlemen, having no control over quantity, quality and prices, processors now have the information to buy cashews directly from farmer groups more easily. At the start, direct procurement is more labor-intensive. However, over time it results in long-term relationships between processors and farmers that enable joint investments and joint management of production. This ultimately leads to more buying efficiency and a secure and steady growth of supply.