US FINANCES PROJECT TO BOOST CASHEW PROCESSING IN WEST AFRICA
A project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture aims to invest $61 million over five years to accelerate cashew processing in West Africa, representatives said at the launch on Thursday in Abidjan.
The Prosper Cashew project will focus on Ivory Coast, which has been trying to promote its cashew sector for years but has seen local processors driven into bankruptcy recently by Asian competition. It will also be implemented in Nigeria and Ghana.
Led by American NGO TechnoServe, the project aims to improve cashew processing facilities, facilitate access to working capital, and link investors with processors in West Africa.
“Over five years, the Prosper Cashew project plans to create more than 4,500 new jobs (at least 50% of them for women), mobilize $61 million in cashew sector investments and help processors to sell over $200 million worth of cashew products to national, regional and international markets,” said Will Warshauer, CEO of TechnoServe.
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Ivory Coast’s government has granted subsidies to local cashew processors, but it has not been enough to keep them afloat faced with Asian multinationals which pay higher prices to buy up all the raw supply.
“We believe based upon our study, 75% of the action will be in Ivory Coast, because of the scale and size that it has. So 75% of the money will get disbursed here because of the conducive processing environment,” said Krishanu Chakravarty, project director for Prosper Cashew based in Abidjan.
Adama Coulibaly, the general director of Ivory Coast’s Cotton and Cashew Council, said it would greatly help the problem of financing in the sector and could prevent more bankruptcies. (Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Nellie Peyton, Editing by William Maclean)