The USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) has launched a $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 and 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 to 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 $1 million co-investment grant from the Trade Hub and $9.2 million in private capital and resources from Tolaro Global.
According to Tolaro Global, an insufficiency in the number of 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 3,863 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. Alongside this, it will increase its 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.
Tolaro Global will also seek to reduce waste from cashew apples, a potentially high-value part of the cashew nut that is also routinely discarded. 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 $18.8 million in revenue by the end of the partnership in May 2024.
“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,” said Ouattara. “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.”
The Trade Hub’s co-investment partnerships have also been key to companies such as Tolaro Global bouncing back from financial hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the COVID-19 crisis and the general decline experienced throughout most of the world in 2020, our company, like many others, took a hit,” says Dabo Falilatou, Grants Management Officer with Tolaro Global. “Added to this was the fact that we were faced with doubts from financial institutions, which had become unconfident about making loans to factories. In this context, the Trade Hub co-investment grant of $1 million came as a breath of fresh air.”
About the Trade Hub: The West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) is a USAID-funded initiative that catalyzes economic growth through co-investing with the private sector to generate new investment, create new jobs, and increase the value of regional and international exports in West Africa.
About USAID: The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S.
Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential.
About Tolaro Global: Established in 2011, Tolaro Global SAS is a cashew processing and wholesaling firm located in the center of Benin’s cashew production zone in Parakou. The company’s mission is to create partnerships and networks, from producer to consumer, and manage every link in the cashew nut value chain to create an ethical, sustainable and transparent process.