West Africa Positioned as Major Cashew Nut Exporter Through U.S. Government Investments

West Africa is poised to be the next largest exporter of cashew kernels to the U.S. market through a $3
million co-investment partnership between the USAID-funded West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade
Hub) and Red River Foods (RRF), a leading global supplier of plant-based food. This partnership builds on
the U.S. Government’s Prosper Africa initiative to increase two-way trade and investment between the
United States and Africa, as nearly $32 million in exports are anticipated from activities to boost the
production and processing of this valuable commodity.


According to RRF, which sources cashews from West Africa, the region currently produces 1.8 million
metric tons (MTs) annually. While this figure may be impressive, it is still below the volume of cashews
grown and processed in Vietnam and India, whose economies have benefited significantly from meeting
the rising global demand for cashews. Nevertheless, West Africa has the capability to compete with the
other world leaders thanks to its growth potential and strong labor force.


“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 the entire supply and value chain,” said Dan Phipps,
CEO of RRF.


In support of the project, RRF will use its $3 million Trade Hub grant in tandem with its own resources to
expand and establish exports of cashews sourced from 10,950 farmers, processors, and suppliers working
in the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Benin. These value chain actors will benefit from
having a steady, higher income thanks to working directly with RRF, with an estimated $27 million in sales
to be earned collectively within the partnership’s 3-year timeframe.


Additionally, RRF community representatives and monitoring and evaluating officers will receive technical
assistance and training in good agricultural practices (GAP) and then transfer that knowledge through
training to communities. A lack of training has led to poor cashew yields, post-harvest losses, and lower
farmer incomes relative to cashew farmers in Southeast Asia. With this project, GAP competencies
amongst the project’s communities will greatly increase.

Another core aim of this project is to increase the volume of cashews processed in West Africa. Currently,
more than 90 percent of raw cashews grown in the region are sent outside of Africa for processing due to
a lack of technical knowledge, poor processing infrastructure, and regulatory hurdles. To counter this, RFF
will build a cutting-edge cashew processing facility in Côte d’Ivoire from which farmers’ cashews will be
processed before being shipped to RRF’s value-addition facility in the United States.


By the project’s end, RRF expects to export an additional 10,664 MTs of West African raw cashew nuts
and 668 MTs of processed cashews beyond current levels, creating sustainable sales for West African
smallholders and firms well beyond the life of the project. At least 482 jobs will be created through all
project activities.


“The Trade Hub was created to help support ambitious, forward-thinking initiatives like this,” said Michael
Clements, Trade Hub’s Chief of Party. “We hope to soon see ‘Made in West Africa’ printed on cashew
products bought throughout the United States thanks to this partnership with Red River Foods.”