BENIN – The 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.
The project will be funded by a US$1 million co-investment grant from the Trade Hub and US$9.2 million in private capital and resources from Tolaro Global.
According to Tolaro Global, insufficiency among organic certified cashew producers has resulted in it not meeting the quantities of cashews demanded by the U.S. and European markets.
Building the capacities of the cashew producers to obtain organic certification will increase its supply of certified organic cashew nuts from 1,567 metric tons to 8,000 metric tons during the 3-year project.
This effort will be supported through Tolaro Global partnering with Away4Africa, a Dutch technical advisory firm, as well as two regional farmer cooperative unions, to give the cashew farmers the necessary tools and training to produce certified organic cashews.
Due to inadequate equipment and technical expertise, about 87 percent of Benin’s raw cashew nuts are exported to Asian markets, such as India and Vietnam for processing.
To counter this, Tolaro Global will seek to expand its Benin based cashew-processing capabilities through infrastructure improvements and technical training, enabling it to process 8,000 metric tons of raw cashew nuts per year by the end of the project.
Regis Ouattara, a Public-Private Partnership Manager for the Trade Hub, looks forward to seeing the long-term, positive economic impact the project will have in Benin.
“Like other countries in West Africa, most of Benin’s cashew crops are exported to be processed in foreign markets, resulting in a huge loss of revenue for both cashew producers and companies like Tolaro Global.
“Through this partnership and similar ones such as with Red River Foods, the Trade Hub is helping West Africa cashew processors and exporters take full potential of the cashew nut value chain,” said Ouattara.
The investment will also increase the company’s capacity to meet the burgeoning demand for nut-based products such as butters, spreads, and flours.
These value-added products can be made from broken cashew pieces, but require additional processing.
Through its processing improvements, Tolaro Global will reduce waste from the cashew pieces while adding additional revenue streams.
As part of the project, Tolaro will recover 300 metric tons of cashew apples that will be transformed into animal feed. The company will train 204 people in collecting, drying, and disposing of cashew apples as part of this activity.
Through the project’s combined efforts, Tolaro Global expects to generate US$18.8 million in revenue by the end of the partnership in May 2024.