Professionalising Cashew Industry in Northern Province for future tourism opportunities

A pilot programme  conducted  in  Kilinochchi  and  Mullaitivu  aligned  with  Tourism Value Chain Development Programme

Geo based agro verities and unique productions have become a reason for tourists to visit certain destinations. Northern environment is more suitable for some unique cultivations where cashew can be referred as one of them. EFECS Project developed the ideal strategy for district-based tourism routes and Mullaitivu & Kilinochchi were identified as the best destinations  for cashew.  Kilinochchi  has  considerably  many  cashew  lands  and  famous brands such as Vanni Kaju. Yet, the cashew industry has not formally connected with the tourism industry as a tourist amenity. Low quality of the production, lack of knowledge about value addition, poor marketing approaches were the reasons for the poor growth of this industry. It was clear that integrating the cashew plantation and its value addition with tourism sector could go a long way.

The project proposed to pilot two SME based communities engaged in cashew cultivation and manufacturing, namely VVR Industries which is a member of Kadda Vinayagar TCCS Mullaitivu District that provides employment to the society members. Second SME was the Nature Wins in Poonakary in Kilinochchi District which provides many employment opportunities  for  women.  The  training  was  constructed  based  on  a  feasibility  analysis conducted   by   EFECS.   The   programme   included   the   Business   Planning   Session, Cultivation and Crop Management, Processing & Value Addition, Packaging, Accounting and Bookkeeping. Totally 08days programme was conducted for each SME.

Experts in the industry represented from Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Cashew Cooperation, Palmyra Research Centre conducted this programme under the supervision of Northern Province Tourism Bureau with the facilitation of EFECS in order to connect the cashew industry with the existing tourism value chain.

Business  Planning  &  Bookkeeping  Sessions  were  conducted  by  the  Consultants  from Northern Province trained by SANASA Campus. These trainers were successfully carried out 08 days training programme on Business Planning and Bookkeeping / Accounting for two  cashew  processing  entities  in  Mulliyawalai,  Mullaitivu  District  and  Poonakary, Kilinochchi District.

The objective of this programme was to develop a proper business plan for each entity based  on  their  operations  to  achieve  the  individual  society  objectives  effectively. Similarly, the Accounting and Bookkeeping session provided a greater knowledge on the basic accounting practices that are required to carry out their business successfully.

02 days Business Planning session were conducted for the 14 member employees of VVR Industries connected with Kadda Vinayagar TCCS engaged in Cashew Processing and Cashew Growing in Mulliyawalai, Mullaitivu District. Programme was held on 15th  & 16th July 2021.

Participants  attending   Business  Planning  Session  in  Mulliyawalai  conducted  by  Mr.  A Sudarshan and Mr. S. Ajanthen, trained consutltants of SANASA Campus.

Similarly, 02 days Business Planning session was conducted for Nature Wins Pvt Limited, Vanni Cashew engaged with Cashew Growing and Processing with the engagement of women in Poonakary in Kilinochchi District on 19th  & 20th  July 2021.

07 employees attending the Business Planning Programme in Poonakary conducted by Mr. P. Raghawan and Ms. A Vasuki trained by SANASA Campus.

Ms. Vasuki explaining the business plan contents to the participants…

Understanding  the  importance  of  training  on  the  proper  bookkeeping  and  finance practices, 02 days programme were conducted for the employees in Mulliyawalai and Poonakary by the consultants trained by SANASA Campus.

02   days   Accounting   &   Bookkeeping   sessions   conducted   for   VVR   Industries   in Mulliyawalai, Mullaitivu District on 29th  & 30th  July 2021.

The session was participated by 15 members and the programme was conducted by Mr. S. Ajanthan and Mr. A Sudarshan.

Parallelly, 02 days Accounting & Bookkeeping sessions were successfully conducted for Nature Wins Pvt Limited, Vanni Cashew engaged with Cashew Growing and Processing with the engagement of women in Poonakary in Kilinochchi District 06th  & 07th  July 2021.

12 employees participated for this programme and the programme was conducted by Mr. T. Balasubramanium and K. Saseegaran.

Members engaging with an individual assignment at the session.

Trainers assisting the members in accounting exercise.

Team facing for a group photo at the end of two days programme

There  were  many  processing  related  issues  such  as  limited  knowledge  and  skill  on primary  processing  of  cashew  nuts,  unawareness  of  potential  value-added  product development,  limited  knowledge  on  cashew  processing  technologies  and  relevant machineries and inexistence of Cost reducing technologies.

Specially  the  financial  challenges  were  identified  such  as  lack  of  knowledge  on  cost calculation of cashew cultivation and value addition and how to overcome financial need to purchase the basic machineries. In order to provide the proper market linkages, project expects  to  develop  new  value-added  products  such  as  Cashew  Milk  that  can  further create Cashew Vine and Hand Sanitizers that has a higher demand in the market.

Mr. K. Hershanth, Market Development Officer, EFECS Project welcoming the members for the programme.

Accordingly,  02  days  training  on  Processing  &  Value  Addition  conducted  for  VVR Industries engaged with Cashew Processing and for the members of Kadda Vinayagar TCCS engaged in Cashew Growing in Mulliyawalai, Mullaitivu District on 13th  & 14th  July

2021.  The  Programme  was  conducted  by Ms J.  Francis  and  there  were  12  members attended the programme.

Members  engaged  with  Cashew  Processing  gaining  the  theoretical  knowledge  on  product development.

A proper knowledge was given on the basic cashew value additions such as the methods of increasing shelf life of the product as well as the methods of preparing different cashew products with high quality expected by the target market.

Practical sessions on Proper Value Additions required for the hotels….

Women engaged in Value Additions……..

Mr.  Kanojan,  Assistant  Director,  Export  Development  Board  attending  the  value  additions programme…

Similarly, 02 days training on Processing & Value Addition conducted for Nature Wins Pvt Limited, Vanni Cashew in Kilinochchi District 22nd  & 27th  July 2021 at the Palmyra Research  Centre,  Kayithadi,  Jaffna.  Programme  was  attended  by  07  employees  and conducted by Research Assistant, Ms. M. Sobini.

Team  engaging  with  the  preparation  of  Cashew  Milk  for  fermentation  at  the  laboratory  of PRI……

“Export Development Board would like to provide continuous support to connect these SMEs with the international markets to promote northern province products. Specially, this tourism value chain-based initiative would benefit such industries to connect with export markets  as  well”  said  Mr.  G.  Kanojan,  Assistant  Director,  Export Development Board, Northern Province who coordinated the resource teams for this programme.

Trainer explaining the value addition process and ingredients for the participants…….

“There are number of opportunities for these kind of good quality products generated from Northern Province  itself if we properly connected with the tourism stakeholders. Specially these cashews can be promoted in the hotels in Northern Province for travellers to buy as well as to use for the hotel cooking purposes” said Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas, Chairman of Northern Province Tourism Bureau attending the programme.

Mr. Stanley Mascarenhas, Chairman Northern Tourism Bureau at an inspection visit for the Value Addition Programme.

“The fermented products will be ready for the re-processing in a months’ time period under the continuous observation of Palmyra Research Laboratory” stated Ms. N. Sobini addressing the audience.

“Cashew, being as one of the iconic crops in the Northern Province would be able to bring miraculous results to attract tourism through innovative product inventions” stated Ms. Harshi Abeynayake, Value Chain Officer (Tourism) participating in the training programme.

The project identified various challenges influencing for the development of this industry in terms of cultivation such as limited knowledge on quality cashew cultivations required for markets and poor knowledge and skills on recommended harvesting practices.

01-day  workshop  on  Cultivation  &  Crop  Management  Practices  for  Nature  Wins  Pvt Limited, Vanni Cashew in Kilinochchi District  was successfully conducted on 16th  July 2021.  There  were  14  employees  engaged  with  this  training  conducted  by  Mr.  L. Sanjeewan, Assistant Regional Manager, Sri Lanka Cashew Cooperation.

Mr. V. Saseegaran, SCDO, Sri Lanka Cashew Cooperation providing the knowledge on Cultivation & Crop Management Practices.

The trainers explained the duration of planting the crops to get better results and the best methods of transportating the cashew plants to the fields. This was taken a lot of attention of the audience as most of them were lacking such knowledge on proper mechanisms in crop management.

Ultimate idea of this programme is to train the SME on harvesting a good quality product in  order  to  cater  to  the  export  as  well  as  to  the  tourism-based  markets  in  Northern Province.

The audience was practically engaged with the activities set by the curriculum to gain the most appropriate practical knowledge through this programme.

Mr. L. Sanjeewan, Assistant Regional Manager, Sri Lanka Cashew Cooperation explaining the importance of oiling the branches after pruning.

Mr. V. Saseegaran, SCDO practically explaining the process of finding the worms attack in the cashew stems….

The SMEs inspecting the worms inside the tree…….

Similarly, 01-day workshop on Cultivation & Crop Management Practices conducted for VVR  Industries  in  Mulliyawalai,  Mullaitivu  District  was  conducted  on  20th   July  2021. There  were  15  members  attended  this  programme  conducted  by  Sri  Lanka  Cashew Cooperation.

Trainer is explaining the nutrition deficits that can be observed from the cashew leaves.

Understanding the importance of “Packaging” for the Cashew SMEs, 01-day workshop on Packaging was conducted for Nature Wins Pvt Limited, Vanni Cashew in Poonakary in  Kilinochchi  District  on  28th    July  2021.  12  members  participated  this  programme conducted   by   Mr.   Naguleshwaran,   reputed   Agriculture   Food   Producer   currently exporting his products to many foreign markets.

Trainer explaining about the best practices of packaging….

Team facing for a group photo after the programme…

Similarly,  01-day  workshop  on  Food  Packaging  was  conducted  for  VVR  Industries engaged with Cashew Processing in Mulliyawalai, Mullaitivu District on 21st  July 2021. 11 members participated this programme conducted by Ms. J. Francis.

Providing training on vacuum packaging…

Participants are practically engaging with packaging…

Nutrition is the key point for the SDG 2 ‘End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture’ and is an essential component for achieving many of the other targets: overall, the nutritional aspects of the SDGs aim to promote healthy and sustainable diets and ensure food safety.

Northern  Tourism  being  as  a  community  based  sustainable  tourism  destination  in  Sri Lanka is willing to promote Small and Medium Scale  Businesses specially with higher women engagement to create a better tomorrow. This initiative was a pilot that could be introduced to any geo location to understand the importance of attractions and amenity sector to the overall tourism value chain.

The attractive natural sales outlet of Vanni Cashew newly opened in the Poonery – Jaffna Road provides the best example of livelihood diversification in the post covid pandemic situation. The SME is planning to provide 500 employment opportunities to women in Kilinochchi  and  Mullaitivu  District  by  expanding  this  production  process  using  the knowledge gained by this programme.

Cashew Outlet of Nature Wins established in Poonery – Jaffna Road…….

“EFECS Project is a very short-term pilot programme started in November 2019 and we are finishing this pilot in next September. We are planning to introduce this new cashew product range to the Hotel Cluster in August for the benefit of the SMEs. This initiative will be sustainable with the engagement of Export Development Board, Sri Lanka Cashew Cooperation  and  Palmyra  Research  Institute  under  the  flagship  of  Northern  Province Tourism Bureau” said Ms. Abeynayake, concluding the programme.