GEF, partner invest in Benin-based cashew processing company


The Global Environment Facility (GEF) and its partner, Moringa Investment Fund has invested in a sustainable cashew processing company in Benin which is likely to benefit thousands of farmers.

Cashew production and processing is a win-win opportunity for West African countries’ economies and the environment. Producers are smallholder farmers in agroforestry systems that combine cashew trees and food crops such as sorgho, mil, and maize, among others. Cashew production also contributes to land restoration and the fight against land degradation and desertification. It offers multiple benefits for the environment all while improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Moringa has invested in Tolaro Global, the leading cashew kernels processor and exporter in Benin, to develop a world leader in the production of sustainable and ethical cashews. Some of the expected results are the setting up of a salting and roasting unit and an increase of the primary processing capacity of Tolaro Global to 20,000 tons per year by 2021. Ultimately, Tolaro could become the first company in West Africa exporting 100% “made in Africa” cashew end products.

The support given to farmers will be strengthened, thanks to a partnership with USAID, with the objective of reaching 30,000 farmers and creating 1,900 additional jobs.

The Moringa Agroforestry Fund is a €84m investment vehicle for agroforestry projects with high environmental and social impacts. It invests in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Initiated by Edmond de Rothschild Private Equity and ONF International, the fund has already attracted many financing partners and forestry sector businesses to ultimately benefit smallholder farmers.

The African Development Bank also approved a €10 million equity investment and, as a GEF Agency, developed a $12 million proposal under the GEF6 Non-Grant Instrument to invest in a number of replicable agroforestry projects in Sub-Saharan Africa to increase and diversify the revenue streams of agriculture smallholders and generate ecosystem services.

This highly innovative project provides a unique opportunity to produce trackable achievements in Africa in the fields of agroforestry, emerging markets private equity, and carbon credits management systems. The Moringa Agroforestry Fund also includes safeguard principles to analyze land ownerships, and monitors potential invasive species.

Tolaro Global, created in 2008, is a sustainable cashew processing company in Parakou, in the center of Benin. It processed 2,500 tons of raw cashew nuts in 2016, and employs 600 people, half of which are women. It mainly targets the sustainable cashew premium markets in the United States and Europe. Tolaro is working with 7,000 farmers, and supporting an additional 2,500 people through outgrowing programs. It has recently obtained both Fair Trade and Organic certifications.

Agriculture is the main driver of macro and micro economies, but also the main force behind the loss of ecosystem services and resources degradation. Land and forest degradation are driven by the expansion of unsustainable forms of agriculture, logging, and fuel wood. Integrating trees and woody shrubs into more sustainable and cost-effective agriculture practices helps raise yields, lower the need for water and fertilizer, and diversifies incomes, while reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and allowing adaptation to climate change.