Social investor Oikocredit provided a three-year $3.5 million loan to agricultural processors, wholesalers and retailers of Valency Agro Nigeria, a subsidiary of international commodity traders Valency International, to support the development of Nigeria’s cashew nut production and processing.
Oikocredit’s loan to Valency Agro Nigeria will help the company increase its procurement of raw cashew nuts and its capacity to transport, warehouse and process the nuts into high- quality cashew kernels for export. The investment will also sustain and create more permanent and seasonal jobs and aims to improve the livelihoods of smallholder cashew farmers and their families.
Sunil Dhanuka, Country Head of Valency Agro Nigeria said, “Oikocredit’s loan will support our expansion of production and processing. With five cashew nut processing centres fully equipped with state-of-the-art machines, we plan to bring 400 more female employees into our workforce and equip them with the necessary skills. At a time when many households have lost their livelihoods due to the economic impacts of Covid-19, we are pleased to be creating more good-quality jobs and are committed to sustain the wellbeing of our employees.”
Valency Agro Nigeria operates the largest fully integrated cashew processing facility in Nigeria, where it employs more than 800 skilled workers, including 700 women who would find it difficult to obtain other sources of income. Between 600 and 800 smallholder cashew farmers sell directly to Valency Agro. The company is committed to gender empowerment, provides health programmes, training and development workshops for staff, and reuses cashew shell waste as fuel. Nigeria is the fourth-largest cashew nut producer in Africa and sixth in the world.
Ufuoma Eghwerehe, Oikocredit’s Country Manager for Nigeria said, ‘’We are excited about our new partnership with Valency Agro, Oikocredit’s first agriculture partner in Nigeria. Our loan will boost their cashew processing capacity and value addition, generate employment, especially for disadvantaged women, improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and their families in this Covid-19 era, and make a positive social impact in the communities we serve. With investments like these, Oikocredit can help African countries move beyond relying on exporting raw products and increase their trade in higher-value finished agricultural goods.’’