Interview with Lydia Ogungbade, Senior Process Specialist at Prosper Cashew
When did you join Prosper Cashew?
I joined the Prosper Cashew project on 10 January, 2022.
What is your current position at Prosper Cashew?
My current position is Senior Process Specialist under the Technical Lead vertical of the project
Who are your direct collaborators?
The cashew processors and partners are my direct collaborators. Additionally, I work with the Prosper Cashew project team and other TechnoServe staff.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
My typical working day can take two forms, mainly due to the fact that my time is spent either in the field, working with the processors, or in the office.
On a typical day in the office, I start the day by checking my emails and responding based on urgency. I look through my to-do list and begin to complete each task according to my priority or schedule. Then spend most of my mornings planning and working on the analytical aspect of my job. Next, I review all of the data collected from our technical interventions with processors and compile it into reports that I present to my team and later to my supervisor. Sometimes I attend meetings. After lunch, I begin to focus on follow-up activities with processors; to update them on their operational routines related to our technical interventions, to ensure they are implementing the action plan and collecting the correct data we need for performance measurement and reporting.
On a typical field day, after meeting with the processor’s management team, I work according to the activity plan for the visit. This will mostly involve the training of their employees and working with them to address the areas in their processing operations that require my technical assistance as a process specialist. I make relevant observations for GAP analysis and identification of areas for improvement, after which I make recommendations that would be used to design an action plan for implementation. I see the field work as an important aspect of my role in the project because it is the time when I can use my expertise to positively drive the desired improvements needed by the processors, which will ultimately contribute to the impact of the project.
What has been your best Prosper Cashew moment so far?
My best Prosper Cashew moment so far was meeting the entire project teams from the three countries (Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast) where the project is being implemented at the retreat held at the Assoyam Hotel in Ivory Coast last year. It was my best moment because I was able to put a face to most of the names I had interacted with virtually. Most importantly, I was able to understand to a large extent the role and contribution of each vertical in the execution of the project to achieve the set goals and objectives.
What are your thoughts on the West African cashew industry in general?
The West African cashew industry is a growing sector with numerous opportunities for value chain expansion. There are areas for growth that can be tapped for the potential to improve livelihoods and generate income for African economies. These include but are not limited to, improving cashew production and product quality, expanding processing capacity, providing working capital and investment support to farmers and processors, technical assistance at the production and processing levels, creating better policies, and supporting research and development.
What are your thoughts on our contribution to the Cashew industry?
The contribution of Prosper Cashew has the potential to significantly promote the economic growth of the cashew industry in West Africa to strengthen and revitalize the cashew processing facilities in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Ghana. I believe that the components and strategies currently being employed in the implementation of the project are addressing the challenges of the industry and in a few years, the impact of the project will be more visible and measurable.
When was the first time you ever tasted cashew?
I tasted cashew for the first time when I was about 11 years old. At that time, my family moved to a neighborhood where cashew trees were grown.
What do you like most about working at TechnoServe?
Collaborative interaction through teamwork.
Thank you for reading!
This interview was produced with the financial support of USDA Food for Progress program.