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Liberalisation, gender and livelihoods: the Mozambique cashew nut case. Summary report

Cashew makes an important contribution to rural livelihoods in Mozambique, as an income source, a source of nutrition and a source of employment. About 95% of all cashew is currently produced by smallholder farmers and there is only a handful of commercial farms. Around one million rural households (40% of the population) have access to cashew trees and cashew is often processed at home as well as in factories. It offers particular value to women, who are active in producing, processing and marketing cashew throughout the country. For these reasons, enhancing the productivity and profitability of the cashew sector could be a key strategy for poverty reduction in Mozambique and would also increase the country’s export earnings. But the success of such a strategy depends on the extent to which women can engage with and benefit from the sector. Mozambique used to be one of the world’s biggest producers of raw cashew nuts and exporters of processed kernels. But since the mid-1970s various problems have meant that production and quality have dwindled, with rapid liberalisation in the 1990s resulting in the collapse of the processing sector. Mozambique is now a small world player, competition has increased and countries like India, Brazil and Vietnam dominate the world market. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Mozambique between 2002 and 2004, this study explores how improvements in three main areas (cultivation, processing, marketing and trade) could enhance cashew’s role in reducing poverty and promoting gender equality.

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