The Kaduna State government has entered into partnership with an agricultural firm, Vicampro to set up a modern multi-billion naira French Rice/Potato plant in Manchok, Kaura local government area of the state.
The processing plant when completed would be biggest in West Africa and would offer 30,000 direct jobs to the teeming unemployed youths.
Speaking at a news conference in Kaduna, Dr. Manzo Maigari, the state commissioner for Agriculture and Forestry, stated that 5,000 hectares of land in each local government area would be allocated to community on the best ways of planting potatoes.
Vicampro, owner of the processing plant would buy the potatoes from the farmers for its massive production as 60 per cent of the products would be exported, Maigari said while explaining how the farmers in the state would benefit from the new company.
He further said that the governor El-Rufai led administration’s economic diversification processing drive would extend to other crops to revive the current economic challenges facing the country and the state.
“Since the coming of this government, we came with a goal and determination in farming. What we did is to organize farmers into cooperatives, commodity interest groups and the rest.
“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 dollars coming into Kaduna state to process French rice and potatoes.
“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 have suitable soil to grow potatoes.
“Another benefit is that it will help us to standardize our farm practice in the state,” the commissioner said.
In his remark, the Managing Director of Vicampro, Michael Agbogo, 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.
He added that, “The project is the landmark one because its creates jobs. Our vision is to cultivate 10,000 hectares 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 Saharan Africa.”
Also speaking on the development, 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 the biggest poultry/hatchery in Sub Saharan Africa in Kaduna.
Gambo said for Kaduna processed products to be exported across board, the state has established world class agricultural certification centre, calling on investors to come and invest in the state.