NIGERIA – Social investor Oikocredit has issued a three-year US$3.5 million loan to agricultural processor, wholesaler and retailer, Valency Agro Nigeria Ltd, to support development of Nigeria’s cashew nut production and processing sector.
Valency Agro Nigeria, subsidiary of Valency International, focuses on processing of raw cashew nuts, cocoa beans, ginger and other agricultural produce.
The financial backing will enable the agro-processor to increase its procurement of raw cashew nuts and its capacity to transport, warehouse and process the nuts into high- quality cashew kernels for export.
The investment, according to Oikocredit, will also sustain and create more permanent and seasonal jobs and aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder cashew farmers and their families.
With five cashew nut processing centres fully equipped with state-of-the-art machines, the company plans to bring 400 more female employees into its workforce and equip them with the necessary skills.
Valency Agro Nigeria operates the largest fully integrated cashew processing facility in Nigeria, where it employs more than 800 skilled workers, including 700 women who would find it difficult to obtain other sources of income.
The company is committed to gender empowerment, provides health programmes, training and development workshops for staff, and reuses cashew shell waste as fuel.
Sunil Dhanuka, Country Head of Valency Agro Nigeria, said, “Oikocredit’s loan will support our expansion of production and processing.
“At a time when many households have lost their livelihoods due to the economic impacts of Covid-19, we are pleased to be creating better-quality jobs and are committed to sustain the wellbeing of our employees.”
Oikocredit, tagged as worldwide cooperative has over 45 years of experience funding organizations active in financial inclusion, agriculture and renewable energy.
The organization’s loans, equity investments and capacity building aim to enable people on low incomes in Africa, Asia and Latin America to improve their living standards sustainably.
“We are excited about our new partnership with Valency Agro, Oikocredit’s first agriculture partner in Nigeria. Our loan will boost their cashew processing capacity and value addition, generate employment, especially for disadvantaged women, improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and their families in this Covid-19 era, and make a positive social impact in the communities we serve.
“With investments like these, Oikocredit can help African countries move beyond relying on exporting raw products and increase their trade in higher-value finished agricultural goods,” Ufuoma Eghwerehe, Oikocredit’s Country Manager for Nigeria said.
Nigeria is the fourth-largest cashew nut producer in Africa and sixth in the world.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, since the 1990s the crop has increased Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product and is ranked 2nd as non-oil export foreign exchange earner for the country.
In 2018 it generated about US$500 million, providing a livelihood for about 300,000 to 500,000 families mostly youths and women in Nigeria.
The national production capacity of cashew in 2020 was 260,000 metric tonnes on 100,000ha of land. The average yield was 600kg/ha as against the global average of 1.230kg/ha.
The country targets to increase production to 350,000 metric tonnes by 2023, and processing capacity from 15 per cent in 2020 to 35 per cent by 2023.