BENIN – HRD Industries, a subsidiary of Indian multinational HRD Group, is seeking to set up a US$12 million (CFA 7 billion) cashew nut shell processing unit in the Glo-Djigbè Industrial Zone (GDIZ), Benin.
Built on a 3 hectares piece of land, the processing plant will have an annual production capacity of 50,000 liters of oil and 45,000 tonnes of biochar.
The facility is of significant importance as it will utilize cashew nut shells which are mostly disposed as waste.
According to reports by Ecofin Agency, the unit is expected to commence operations next September and create nearly 32,000 direct and indirect jobs by December 2023.
“The GDIZ policy is part of a sustainable development approach, and this is only possible by limiting our impact on the environment and reducing the waste produced within the area.
“With HRD Industries, the GDIZ becomes a zero-waste zone for the processing of cashew nuts,” said Létondji Beheton, Managing Director of the Beninese Company for Investment and Promotion of Industry (SIPI-Benin).
With this project, HRD Industries joins Nand Kishore & Sons (NKS), Indian investor active in timber trade in the country, who are also setting up a cashew nut processing facility at the industrial zone.
NKS has invested CFA franc 13 billion (US$22m) in construction of the facility, expected to have a processing capacity of 30,000 tons of cashews per year.
Construction of the plant commenced in December and is expected to be completed by August 2022, creating 600 direct and thousands indirect job opportunities.
Benin expands market for cashew
Africa produces about 45% or 1.2 million tonnes of global cashew nuts annually with Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Mozambique being the leading producing countries.
In Benin the sector stands out as one of the highest value-added flagship industries given its high potential to contribute to employment and income generation; contribution to food and nutritional security; and great export potential.
Cashew nut is the country’s second-largest agricultural export product after cotton, and accounts for 3% of the gross national product (GNP) and 25% of the income from agricultural exports.
Undertaking local processing will boost the value chain which has been highly focused on exporting of raw cashews to international markets such as India, fetching low value.
Further boosting market access for the cash crop, USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has launched a US$10.2 million co-investment partnership with Tolaro Global, a leading cashew-processing company in Benin, to strengthen the country’s certified organic cashew nut market.
The collaboration is also aimed to help meet the growing demand for cashew products among U.S. and European consumers.
In support of this goal, Tolaro Global is coordinating a three-year project that will assist approximately 3,863 cashew producers in Benin.
Under the initiative, the farmers will obtain certified organic qualifications, increase its processing capacity for cashews, and create new lines of revenue through transforming cashew apples and broken cashews—both typically discarded—into products that can also be exported.