BENIN –  The West African Development Bank has approved a loan of 10 billion FCFA (US$16.2M) for the construction of five cashew nut processing units.

The facilities will be based within the Benin Cashew agro-industrial complex, located in the Glo Djigbé Industrial Zone (GDIZ), 45 km from Cotonou.

According to the GDIZ authorities, the five units will have an annual capacity of 100,000 tonnes of processed cashews.

In addition, a factory for extraction of cashew nut shell oil would be set up, capable of producing up to 20,000 tonnes of oil per year.

This financial assistance supports Beninese ambition to become not only an important player in the agro-industrial sector in Africa, particularly in the cashew sector, but also to transform and promote local agricultural products, through a chain of strong added value.

By 2022, Africa produced about 45% or 1.2 million tonnes of global cashew nuts 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 raw cashews to international markets such as India, fetching low value.

The support by the West African Development Bank is timely, as it comes at a time when the Benin cashew sector targets to become the third largest cashew producer in Africa by 2026, with an annual production of 300,000 tonnes of processed cashews for export.

The project, currently being extended over more than 1,600 hectares, should contribute to an expected increase in exports of 5 to 10 billion dollars and a growth in GDP of 4 to 7 billion dollars in the next ten years.

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