Sunshine Update #2 – Project Sunshine with Community Farms and Village Factories (The Sunshine Villages Project)

Posted by Donald Larson on

Project Sunshine addresses the challenges of the farming communities while also introducing a competitive model to transition the Mozambican cashew industry to survive. This business model will transform the current, underperforming processes into a competitive, inclusive holistic solution that will produce store brands in retail-ready packaging for the leading retail chains in the USA, Europe, South Africa, and the rest of the world. The Sunshine Nut Company brand has been selling in the USA for 10 years. The strong relationships already formed between the Sunshine Nut Company and the leading retailers of the USA will allow Project Sunshine to succeed in helping the poorest populations of the world.

The Mozambican countryside is littered with abandoned, dilapidated cashew factories. Others have come in and built these monstrous de-shelling factories looking to employ people to shell the cashews for export, yet they fail and are deserted. There are two reasons for this failure. One is the required export of containers of a single grade when there are over ten grades produced. Certain grades sell while many don't. The factory must sell all the grades to survive. At Sunshine Nut Co, this is an advantage for us and not a problem because we use all grades of cashews in our products.

The second reason for cashew factories failing is the work force…not that there are not qualified, interested workers, but that full-time work is not sustainable in this culture. Factories in Mozambique are plagued with employees who miss work frequently, arrive late, and leave early. You cannot run a successful business with this type of workforce. The far majority of cashew farmers and their families have never had a job. Many of the villagers do not have proper ID documents and do not even know how to sign their names. They do not have any experience (personally or seeing anyone else) working each day, Monday through Friday, from 7am to 4 pm. They have no grid for this type of lifestyle.

Mozambicans living in the villages must work very hard to survive. If they work all day every day, they cannot fulfill the necessary work responsibilities at home that keep them alive. They must go each day to tend the little farming plots (called machambas) that feed their families. The women are expected to care for the children, wash clothes, and prepare meals. They do all of this with no modern conveniences. Washing the clothes is done by hand and hung on the line to dry. Cooking meals involves foraging for firewood, making the fire, and cooking over it. Two trips to the village well are required each day, which is often kilometers away from them, to have water at their home. Simply put, people do not have the time to work full-time.

Our mini factories are a new concept. We do not hire any workers. We are creating entrepreneurs. We provide a warehouse where each family will store their harvest. When they are ready, they sign up to use the mini factory to de-shell two 80 kg bags of that harvest at a time. The first day requires one hour of their time as one family member comes in and puts the cashews through the steaming process. The second day, four family members come and use the shelling equipment to take the shells off the cashews. This takes about five hours. Cycling through 150 families at the factory at 12 families per day means each family must shell their cashews once every 12 days. That's manageable work - especially when it increases their crop value by 30%.

This is what it looks like…

Each village allocates 300-hectares based on an average of 150 families per village. Each family is given 2 hectares and 476 cashew trees to plant. Our staff walks alongside them in planting and caring for the trees as they grow. Because there is a need for food to eat each day, we give them an allowance in the first three months to buy food for their families. During these 3 months, they plant food crops from the seeds we supply (beans, peanuts, pineapple, etc.) in between the rows of cashew trees. The harvests of those intercrops come in about 3 months. This intercrop plan gives each family immediate benefit with nutrition plus possible extra income due to the sizes of the farms. We will help them with the intercropping as this planting helps keep the soil full of nutrients.

Snap, Crack, and Roast

In summary, the total project can be explained with three components which we call “Snap, Crack, and Roast”.

The ‘Snap’ is the community farm concept where farmers produce the cashews as they snap the cashew kernel from the cashew apple.

The ‘Crack’ is the mini-factory concept located on each community farm to allow the farming community to crack open the raw cashew nut and realize income through value addition.

The ‘Roast’ is the final stage at our processing factory in Matola where roasting, seasoning, and packaging those cashew kernels to perfection under strict quality guidelines allows international sales without issue to the world’s leading retailers.

Selling of SNC Brand, Co-Brands, and Private Label Brands are Crucial to Success

The key to the success of this project is the brand, which makes the difference. It pulls product into the marketplace rather than trying to push it towards the marketplace. This is why our first priority was to develop a global brand (Sunshine Nut Co cashews) with the highest food safety certification at our roasting factory (located in Matola, Mozambique). Now we will expand as Project Sunshine will be sustained through existing sales and expanded by continually drawing in retailers from around the world to produce their store brands. We will continue to increase visibility and acceptance in the marketplace due to our high quality, premium image, freshness, and social impact work. We will continue to cement distributor and retailer relationships to bring quality products, transformed lives, and prosperity to those who should be benefiting from their hard labor and efforts.

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