Gender dynamics in cashew and shea value chains from Ghana and Burkina Faso

Type Report
Title Gender dynamics in cashew and shea value chains from Ghana and Burkina Faso
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
This study is part of a public-private partnership project ‘Oilseeds specialties: opportunities for the
Dutch business community in the vegetable oil industry’ from 2013 to 2015. Demand is rapidly
increasing for shea butter in cosmetics and food, derived from the oil rich nuts of the shea (Vitellaria
paradoxa) tree and for cashew nuts, seeds of the (Anacardium occidentale) tree, used mainly as a
food snack. A literature review, and interviews with 249 farmers and harvesters, processors, retailers,
exporters, 42 traditional leaders, exporters, government, research institutions, non-governmental and
civil society organisations and 17 focus group discussions were held between July and November
2014. The main findings are that rights to cashew and shea trees and their products differ greatly
between men and women. Whilst regulations governing access to land and trees in Burkina Faso and
Ghana do not discriminate between men and women, customary law governs in practice and do
differentiate. Shea is predominantly wild harvested and cashew is cultivated. Access to land for
cultivation is difficult for women in both countries. Land and tree tenure problems include a lack of
knowledge of formal laws, costs and difficulties to register land, and insecure customary tenure.
Benefits from participating in the value chains of these products have increased in both countries for
both men and women. How the income is distributed depends on whether the product comes from a
cultivated tree and if it was a joint, household or individual activity. Both sexes use the incomes from
selling raw and processed products to meet family needs, men tend to spend more on family
education and assets, women more on food. Women in cashew processing groups earn substantially
higher income. Although initiatives are ongoing in both countries, these have not had dramatic
impacts in the study areas. The main factors of success in improving gender equity in shea and
cashew chains are ensuring and securing access to land and trees for smallholders. This means
overcoming the significant cultural and associated financial barriers for women to own land and trees,
but also for smallholders to enlarge their land holdings, and supporting women to organise into groups
and improve the quantity and quality of processing. Further recommendations include raising
awareness among traditional leaders, village elders and male household heads of the potential of
women in agriculture and benefits for households; support for collective action and pilot activities, and
celebrating women’s - and men’s - successes to improve their participation in decision-making
processes in the value chains affecting them.

Related studies