NIGERIA – Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has inaugurated a 5,000 tonnes per year capacity cashew processing factory in Ilorin, Kwara State capital.

He was accompanied by the governor of the state, Abdulfatah Ahmed; Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; CEO/Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC), Olusegun Awolowo and Executive Director, Bank of Industry (BoI), Waheed Olagunju.

Prof Osinbajo, after a guided tour of the plant owned by FoodPro Limited, said he was impressed by the factory and its commitment to adhere to global standards.

He expressed the administration’s resolve to support the private sector with policies that would aid local businesses.

FoodPro co-founder/CEO, Ayo Olajiga, took Osinbajo on a guided tour of the factory, the different stages of cashew processing from sizing and boiling, shelling and scooping, to drying and peeling and finally, grading and packaging.

According to Olajiga, the importance of cashew processing to economic development cannot be over-emphasised, as it creates sustainable jobs (both direct and indirect) and leads to overall increase in the value of the cashew sector.

She said: “Through domestic processing of raw cashew nuts, we have created more than 400 direct jobs and several thousands indirect jobs for farmers, vendors, suppliers and artisans, who form the heartbeat of FoodPro’s value chain.

“With 90 per cent of FoodPro’s employees being women, we are humbled by the role we play in impacting communities and improving economic and social development conditions in our host community.”

Olajiga expressed gratitude to the Federal Government, acting through its agencies such as NEPC and BoI, both housed under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI).

Over the years, the NEPC under the leadership of Awolowo has worked to help FoodPro gain valuable market access via local and international trade shows in Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates and the United States (US).

Olajiga added that NEPC from time to time has provided the company with export-related training, while BoI provided the funding used to acquire machinery and continue to support efforts to effectively operate the factory.

FoodPro Limited has been in operation since 2013. The company recently ramped up its capacity from 1,000 to 5,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts per annum, making it the largest locally owned cashew processing company in Nigeria.

In addition, FoodPro’s factory is the only factory certified by the African Cashew Alliance for Food Safety and Quality.

Also, the company has unveiled its latest addition to the FoodPro product range, GoNutz, its range of flavoured cashews.

In the near future, the company plans to double its operating capacity further to 10,000 tonnes, commence export of packaged and branded goods, including existing brands, Lion Cashew and Go Nutz as well as a range of additional products that are currently in the development phase.

The Nation