Firm stakes N6 billion in yam, plantain processing plants

Osita Oparaugo

Over N6 billion is currently being invested by an investment bridge and financial news company, Footprint to Africa, to build one of Africa’s biggest yam and plantain processing plants as part of plans to bridge Nigeria’s food demand and address insecurity in the sector.

The company, which stressed the need for Africa to clampdown on exportation of raw materials, said it attracted nothing less than $5 billion investment to the continent last year alone.

Speaking with The Guardian during a tour of the project in Abuja, the Chief Executive Officer of the organisation, Osita Oparaugo, said the project being carried out through the company’s subsidiary, Sinachi Farms, would engage over 20 farmers from eight states and employ about 1500 direct staff.

“The project is about 50 or 60 per cent completed. We have set October 2019 as the opening month. I am sure that the way we are going, in the next four to five months, we should beat that October 2019 deadline.

“The Processing and Packaging section of Bosch, based in South Africa have sent their Nigerian directors here twice and they have looked at the place. This facility will process one million bags of one kilogramme of plantain flour and 1.5 million bags of two kilogrammes of yam flour every year for the first three years before we scale up production.

“The plant would have the capacity of an annual turnover of about $15million. We do not really know how much it will save the country but we do know that it will support the local economy a lot. At least, we are sure it will employ between 1,200 and 1,350 individuals with our outgrower program,’ Oparaugo said.

He decried Africa’s yearly loss to export of raw materials, stressing that the continent must focus on export finished products to boost the revenue and address growing challenges in the region.

Oparaugo was pessimistic Africa about Africa’s development if it continues to export raw materials out of this continent.

He said: “Cote d’ivoire, Nigeria and Ghana are the three highest producers of cocoa in the world. Cote d’Ivoire makes $1.6 billion every year exporting cocoa; the United States of America makes $20 to $30 billion a year from chocolate. Europe has the highest of the products. They make nearly $50 billion every year with Germany, Belgium and Switzerland with the chunk of about $15 billion each.”

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