Current and projected growth in the poultry sector has increased demand for maize meal and soy for poultry feed, particularly as companies move into domestic broiler production. This has created a stable market to support investment in animal feed production facilities. Processing investments in the North can take advantage of close proximity to producers in the North, thereby reducing the logistics costs otherwise incurred when transporting raw materials to processing sites in other regions or importing inputs from abroad.
Nuts for Growth Limited was established in 2013 and has made a name for itself in the soybean and shea processing sectors. To capitalize on the demand created for feed by the growing poultry industry and for edible oils, its plans include establishing a poultry feed mill in the Tamale area for guinea fowl and chicken, and a crushing plant and oil refinery to process raw shea nuts and soya beans into oil. Nuts for Growth intends to use the biomass from shea nut processing for biomass production, to generate up to 9.5 megawatts of electricity that can help power the processing facilities. Plans for this brownfield venture are relatively developed, and started with construction of a warehouse of 6,000 square meters in 2014.
Nuts for Growth has a strong social responsibility mission, seeking to improve rural livelihoods, particularly for women, in the North of the country. The firm’s growth plans also include complementary storage infrastructure to take advantage of the close proximity of raw material inputs, reduce transit times, and support a shared value mission with shea collectors and soy producers. This initiative will create a sustainable market for shea nuts, soy, and maize as inputs to the crushing plant, green energy plant, and feed mill, and will provide a significant new employment opportunity for women in the North.
Nuts for Growth is seeking a total of US$50 million in investment over the next 5 years for its three-phase expansion plan. This investment will include both capital expenditure to set up facilities and working capital, and could take the form of a joint venture and/or equity funding venture, strategic investor, or impact investor.
In the first phase now underway, the company has issued local currency bonds, expecting to raise about US$6 million to purchase equipment to crush soy beans and shea nuts. The company will use about 30% of its shea cake to generate steam for the crushing process. Part of the cake will be made into briquettes to be supplied to its over 27,000 women who supply soybeans and shea kernel to it, to use in domestic cooking in place of firewood, which has negative deforestation and other environmental consequences. This investment could possibly take the form of a joint venture.
In the second phase (beginning 2016 to mid-2017), the company expects to raise a US$22 million loan to procure a refinery for processing soybeans and shea kernel, as well as a poultry feed plant. Also in the second phase, Nuts for Growth projects that it will run two separate processing units for soy and shea. The soy processing plant will supply two principal markets. First, the company will supply soy cake for the existing and growing poultry market in Ghana. Second, Nuts for Growth will develop an outgrower guinea fowl scheme and will provide parent stock, hatchery, vaccines, and feed to these outgrowers. In return, Nuts for Growth will purchase live guinea fowl birds, and will process and market them on the Ghanaian market.
Nuts for Growth expects, in phase three (2017–2019), to raise a US$20 million loan to procure equipment to generate electric power from biomass for the plant. As Ghana’s electricity supply has become erratic and unreliable, Nuts for Growth intends to generate enough electricity to keep its operations going. The remaining 70% of the shea cake will be used to generate electricity for the processing plant. The company also intends to produce fertilizer from its byproducts.
This opportunity will require detailed business planning along with investor matchmaking, structuring of any potential joint venture, and facilitation of finance. Nuts for Growth is working with Joemelu Company Limited, a firm within the USAID FinGAP BAS Providers network, to access finance for its business development enterprises. Joemelu will continue to support the company in developing the strategy and paperwork to obtain short-term financing, and in finding an appropriate equity, joint venture, or impact investor partner.
The solid waste from the processing plant will be fed into a system to generate electric power for the company’s activities. An ERR will be required to determine the level of environmental risk related to this investment. Construction of infrastructure tends to be moderate to high risk, but risk will be determined during further screening of this investment and ERR preparation.
There are a number of donor-supported initiatives to increase agricultural production in Northern Ghana which can be leveraged to support production advances of small farmers, such as:
- USAID-supported ADVANCE Project
- Savannah Agricultural Development Authority
- Ghana Commercial Agricultural Project, financed by USAID and the World Bank.
In terms of the public sector:
- Delivering sufficient and consistent power to major production hubs is a critical role for the public sector.
- To support rapid expansion of agricultural production of staple foods, the government can intensify its efforts to facilitate land acquisition and land use, prioritizing small farmers connected to nucleus farms and processing facilities.
- Government should enforce the company’s environmental management plan to minimize environmental load.
Kofi Kwakwa, Director, +233 (0) 242 686 837, email@example.com