West Africa Positioned as Major Cashew Nut Exporter Through a New Public Private Partnership

Red River Foods and USAID West Africa Trade & Investment Hub partnership to create 500 new jobs and benefit 11,000 farmers, processors and suppliers.

By Blessing Lass

ABUJA, Nigeria — USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub awarded a $3 million grant to Red River Foods in support of increasing cashew kernel production in West Africa, which will help West Africa to become the largest cashew kernel exporter to the U.S. market by April 2024.

Red River Foods, a leading global supplier of plant-based foods, has also committed to investing approximately $47 million in capital and resources. The funding will go towards building a cashew processing facility and provide trainings to local farmers, processors, and suppliers. Also, it will create 500 new jobs and establish training programs that will benefit nearly 11,000 farmers, processors, and suppliers working in Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin.

After every cashew harvest season in Ghana, Red River Foods Ghana provides a bonus payment to cashew farmers to help them fund improvements to their cashew fields, purchase new farming equipment, or support education and healthcare for their families.

Dan Phipps, CEO of Red River Foods, says, “Our mission is to sustainably source the highest quality products from around the world. This project is a natural extension of our current integration along with the entire supply and value chain.”

The public-private partnership will have a lasting impact on the region.

Michael Clements, Chief of Party with the West Africa Trade & Investment Hub, says the program supports “ambitious, forward-think projects” like Red River Food’s investment.

“We hope to soon see ‘Made in West Africa’ printed on cashew products bought throughout the United States thanks to this partnership,” Clements says.

The USAID’s West Africa Trade & Investment Hub grant will accelerate economic growth in West Africa and builds on already existing partnerships. The U.S. government’s Prosper Africa effort also seeks increase the two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

The grant will support  Red River Food’s efforts to build a cutting-edge cashew processing facility in Cote d’Ivoire. During the three-year partnership, USAID estimates that the infrastructure will generate $27 million in smallholder sales and $32 million in total exports. Red River Foods owns a value-addition facility in the United States.

More than 90 percent of raw cashews grown in West Africa are exported for processing due to poor processing infrastructure, lack of agriculture education, and . The region produces 1.8 million metric tons of cashews annually. While this figure seems massive, it’s still less than the volume of cashews grown and processed in Vietnam and India. The United States is primarily dependent on Vietnam, Thailand and India for importing cashews.

After the facility is complete, Red River Foods projects that West Africa will export nearly 11,000 metric tons more annually – 10,664 metric tons of raw cashew nuts and 668 metric tons of processed cashew nuts.

The agricultural trainings will also increase the amount of cashews processed annually. Due to the lack of agricultural education, farmers have had poor cashew yields, post-harvest losses, and lower incomes relative to cashew farmers in Southeast Asia. As a part of the effort to make West Africa the largest exporter of cashew kernels, Red River Food representatives and food handler officers will participate in technical assistance and agriculture trainings, and then lead training for locals to teach them about best practices for cashew yields and food handling.

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