Benin's First Major Cashew Processing Plant Opens with TechnoServe Assistance

New Processing Plant to Provide Jobs and Markets for Rural Poor

PARAKOU, BENIN, JANUARY 24, 2007 —Benin has opened its first large-scale cashew processing facility in over three decades. Afokantan Benin, located in Parakou, is part of TechnoServe's strategy to help develop West Africa's cashew industry by boosting its growing, processing and export capacity.

It is based on TechnoServe's factory model developed in Mozambique with the support of the American people through USAID, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and Irish Aid. This opening will create jobs and raise incomes for smallholder cashew farm families whose average annual income from the crop is as little as US$ 100.

Over 95% of Benin's cashew nut is currently exported in raw form to India for processing, creating no jobs in Benin and leaving local farmers disconnected from their only market. With the Afokantan factory running at the target capacity of 1,500-2,000 metric tons per annum, over 300 jobs will be created and it can purchase the cashew nut from up to 10,000 farmers in the surrounding production catchment. Unlike an overseas purchaser of the cashew nut, Afokantan has the incentive to increase the quantity and quality of its supply, and, to this end, it is establishing win-win relationships with the farmers. Training farmers in best-practice cultivation and post-harvest handling and incentivising them to implement is in the interests of both factory and farmer.

While the social and economic impact of the Afokantan factory in Parakou is important, the ripple effect throughout the West African cashew industry will be many times greater. The factory will serve as a training ground for other processors from Benin and throughout West African cashew producing countries, such as Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Gunea-Bissau, Senegal and Nigeria.

The factory represents a successful public-private partnership whereby a joint venture was created between the local entrepreneur, Abou-Bakr Adjibade, and leading Dutch cashew kernel broker Global Trading bv, with funding support from the Dutch Government PSOM investment program and technical assistance from TechnoServe since 2004. Currently the African Cashew Alliance (www.africancashewalliance.com), supported by the American People through USAID, is further assisting the factory to open up regional markets for its kernel.

About TechnoServe: TechnoServe helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world to build businesses that provide jobs, income and economic opportunity. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or improve more than 2,000 businesses, benefiting millions of people in 32 countries. TechnoServe is currently working to build and expand businesses in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, Ghana, Madagascar, Rwanda, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and India. TechnoServe was recognized as one of the world's "Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs" by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.