Cros Agro Invests in Potato, Coffee, Oil Palm Plantations in Kaduna

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Abimbola Akosile

Cros Agro Allied Ltd, a BlackPace company, is making huge strategic investment in potato, oil palm, coffee and ginger production in Nigeria to create employment opportunities and boost agriculture in both Kaduna and Plateau States respectively. With various farms in Gurara, Kachia, Mangu and Kafanchan areas, the firm is diversifying its agribusiness aggressively.

Executive chairman, BlackPace Group, Mr. O. Paul Andrew, said Cros Agro’s mission is to change the agribusiness landscape of Africa and to support the socio-economic development of the African people.

“Cros Agro’s presence in Nigeria is to offer a robust economic and social value to the agribusiness landscape in the country. Our focus is on potato value chain, oil palm plantation and mill, ginger, banana, coffee, soya and beans. We currently have over 3,000 hectares of which 50 per cent is already cultivated and additional 12,000 hectares is underway to support our oil palm plantation and coffee.”

The company is making a significant progress in its potato farms in both Gurara and Mangu. In addition, it is also setting up an industrial processing plant for French fries and potato flakes in Gurara, Kaduna State. It will be the largest in Nigeria and West Africa, Andrew noted.

The plant will process 40,000 metric tonnes of frozen French fries and potato flakes both for local consumption and export to sub-Saharan regions. Cros Agro investment has commenced and it recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Elof Hansson International, Swedish company acting as super supplier of the processing lines and other equipment for the farm.

According to him, “with the ongoing restructuring of the Nigerian economy the Federal Government has recognised the need for a holistic approach to diversifying her economy from oil to agric-economy.
“Agro-industry in Nigeria is at the growth stage and we are uniquely positioned to successfully make an impact in revolutionising the potato industry in Nigeria. We intend to become the largest producer of potato and French Fries in Nigeria and indeed sub-Saharan Africa. We believe that agriculture is a great industry that can attract the right talent, investment and professionalism,” he explained.

Leading the way in the production of the Irish potato value chain, Cros Agro is investing in the critical enabling components that ensure long time sustainability of the industry. The firm currently owns 700 hectares of oil palm plantation with additional 6,000 hectares underway, 1,500 hectares of ginger farm, 1,200 hectares of potato field and 10 hectares ready for processing facility in Gurara.

In addition to boosting its processing business in the Potato Value chains, Cros Agro has reached an agreement with Rosenqvists Food Technologies to supply its 5,000kg an hour French Fries and Potato Flakes processing plants. The plant will be completed in December 2017 and unveiled for operation in April 2018.

A report by Sylvanus Mahannan Ayuba, Michael Kitsche with support of Folarin Ranson Oguntolu titled ‘Potato Initiative in Africa’, revealed that total production of potatoes in Nigeria average 843,000 tonnes with over 200,000 tonnes sold in major cities.

About 100,000 tonnes are informally sold across Nigerian borders while more than 40,000 tonnes are imported mainly from Europe. Forty per cent of stored seed potatoes are lost within three months of storage.

However, Cros Agro’s investment in the potato processing facility, according to Andrew, will automatically boost potatoes production in the country. And through its merger and acquisitions recently, it is poised to increase on its oil palm plantation and to set up an oil palm mill in the near future.

“The company currently employs close to 60 farmers and will create additional 250 direct jobs once our potato processing plants resume in 2018. Our goal is to support socio-economic development of rural Nigeria while improving on quality of life,” added Andrew.