A mini-factory for processing cashew nut that was built and donated by Brazilians is being used by a Haitian cooperative. Installed in December 2008, the plant was developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and donated to the cooperative by the federal government.
According to the state-owned corporation, the model enables low-cost production and should allow entry into the market of small farmers who currently supply only raw cashew nut to large industries.
In the beginning, the processing plant should benefit 700 people from Grande-Rivière-du-Nord, located 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the Haitian capital, Port-Au-Prince.
However, to researcher Fábio Paiva, of Embrapa Tropical Agroindustry, headquartered in the Brazilian northeastern city of Fortaleza, the Brazilian action may provide an incentive to other actions along the same lines. He was in Haiti from December 6 to 19 to accompany the installation of the equipment.
"In that region there are many NGOs (Non-government Organizations) that possess resources and can purchase new mini-factories. We regard this project as a showcase unit, aimed at encouraging production. We hope that the private initiative and the government will also be motivated and replicate the model in the country, which is in need of help right now," said Paiva.
The average cost of a plant similar to the one that was donated by the Brazilian government is US$ 60,000.
According to the researcher, presently, cashew nuts are processed under inadequate sanitary conditions. Nevertheless, the Haitians get a good price for the product, approximately US$ 20 per kilogram (2.2 lbs).
With the new technology, cashew nuts will gain better quality. The equipment boasts rates of up to 85% of whole nuts, whereas with mechanized cutting at traditional plants, the rate is 55%.
Paiva stated that the mini-factory is also capable of processing bananas, adding greater value to the fruit, widely produced in Haiti. With regard to raw cashew nuts, the daily processing capacity is 500 kilograms (1,102 lbs). After the installation, 30 people from the community were trained to operate the equipment.
The cooperation project, named Technology Transfer in Cashew Nut Production and Processing Systems, is coordinated by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC), by the Brazilian Embassy in Haiti and by the Haitian government, by means of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, with funds from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).