A Kano-based entrepreneur, Alhaji Isa Gerawa, says his new 1,200-tonnes-per-day solvent extraction plant in Kano will create no fewer than 5,000 jobs for the citizens.
Gerawa, who is the Chairman of Gerawa Global Oil Mills Nigeria Ltd., owners of the plant, said that he had invested 50 million U.S. dollars (about N18 billion) in the facility.
He told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday that the investment was directed at expanding the soybean processing and vegetable oil refining plant in Kano.
He said that the expansion was encouraged by the prevailing favourable agricultural environment in the country.
Gerawa described the wholly-indigenous plant located at Tokarawa Industrial Estate in Kano as the “biggest single oil mill in West Africa.
“The plant has a standard laboratory, 10,000-tonne capacity soybean storage silos, 15 million-litre soybean oil silos and warehouses.
“Based on the 2016 statistics on soybeans production output in Nigeria, put at one million tonnes annually, we have the capacity to process more than 25 per cent of the soybean yield from farmers.
“All our raw materials are sourced locally. We have soybean suppliers from Katsina State and virtually all states in the north central part of the country,’’ he said.
Gerawa commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration for implementing good policies and programmes that were aimed at boosting Nigeria’s food security.
He listed the Anchors Borrowers Programme, Presidential Fertiliser Initiative and the irrigation projects, which had increased water availability in key food-producing states, as key agricultural initiatives that were worthy of commendation.
“However, I appeal to Buhari to ban the importation of all categories of vegetable oil into the country so as to stimulate the capacity of local oil industries to grow and also meet the country’s needs for edible oil.
“While refined vegetable oil is on the list of import items that are banned by the Federal government; the importation of refined linseed, castor and olive oil and crude vegetable oil is, however, not banned,’’ he said.
The tycoon also appealed to the Federal Government to address the issue of poor access to finance by farmers and agro-investors, describing it as a major factor inhibiting the agricultural development of the country.
On the prospects of the company, Gerawa said that it intended to start the exportation of its products — soybean meal and soybean oil as well as crude and deodorised oil — within the next three years.
“As a grains and oil company, our foremost responsibility is to offer top quality, healthy and nutritious products to our customers through globally acclaimed best practices,’’ he said.
Incorporated in 2004, Gerawa Oil Mills has transformed its operations, from mechanical processing to chemical processing methods, with the installation of a 200-tonne per day solvent extraction plant in 2007.
The expansion of the plant commenced in 2014 and was completed in 2017 and the factory now has a combined production capacity of 1,200 tonnes per day, making it the “biggest single oil mill plant in West Africa’’.