To boost agricultural productivity in Kaduna State, a French company, Vicampro Farm, in joint venture with the State Government is to flag-off a $120 million French Rice/Potatoes processing plant in the State.
The investment, which is expected to provide 30,000 direct jobs on completion is to be sited in Manchok, Kaura Local Government, in the Southern part of the state.
Kaduna State Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr. Daniel Manzo Maigari, who disclosed this at a joint press conference with the management of VICAMPRO at the Government House, Kaduna on Monday, said, the ground breaking of the project will be conducted by Governor Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai on Friday.
According to Maigari, 5,000 hectares of land will also be allocated in each local government area suitable for potatoes plantation.
He explained that as one of the steps to empower farmers in the state, VICAMPRO, owner of the processing plant will buy the potatoes from the farmers for its massive production, as 60 percent of the products would be exported.
He said that Governor El-Rufai’s economic diversification processing drive would be extended to other crops in tackling the current economic challenges facing the country and the state.
The commissioner said: “Since the coming of this government, we came with a goal and determination in farming. What we did is by organising farmers into cooperatives, commodity interest groups and the rest”.
“But we look at things critically and we decided that everything we are going to do in agriculture, we have to have some value added which will be private sector driven, so we are lucky to have VICAMPRO with an investment worth $120 million coming into Kaduna state to process French rice and potatoes. But what are the gains for us? With this investment we are looking at 30,000 direct jobs, we are also working closely with them to see how we can develop out growers network across all the local government areas that has suitable soil to grow potatoes. Another benefit is that it will help us to standardize our farm practice in the state”.
Meanwhile, on his part, the Managing Director VICAMPRO, Mr. Agbogo Michael, said the company would create the largest agricultural business in Africa.
According to him, “Because Nigeria has the potential of doing so, in terms of land, people to diversify the economy. In Kaduna we know that the state is really open to investment. Nigeria is the only country that can naturally grow potatoes especially irish and can be grown in the state.
“The project is the landmark one because its creates jobs. Our vision is to cultivate 10,000 hectres and to work with over 200,000 out growers that will provide the right inputs into the processing facilities which will be the first of its kind in Sub Sahara Africa”.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Kaduna State Investment Promotion Agency, KADIPA,Gambo Hamza, said the Kaduna investment summit held some months ago has started yielding results with the launch of French rice/potatoes processing plant noting that Olam had launched biggest poultry/hatchery in Sub Sahara Africa in Kaduna.
Gambo noted that for Kaduna processed products to be exported across board, the state has established world class agricultural certification centre, while calling on investors to come and invest in the state.