ETHIOPIA – An edible oil refinery plant and an agro-processing plant are set to break ground in Benishangul-Gumuz Regional State in Ethiopia with a combined investment of 230 million Br (US$7.17m) from two farmers unions.

The oil refinery plant will be established by the the Assosa Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Union while the fruit and vegetable processing plant will be set up by the Assosa Farmers Cooperative Union.

The Federal Cooperative Agency (FCA) conducted a feasibility study on the Assosa Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative Union and the Assosa Farmers Cooperative Union last year and saw them fit to carry out the projects.

The oil refinery plant, will have a capacity of processing 45,000ql of niger, 85,500ql of soybean and 19,500ql of groundnut seeds to produce 1.3 million, 1 million and 741,000lt of edible oil, respectively yearly.

It is Expected to cost 51.2 million Br (US$1.59). The Development Bank of Ethiopia will finance 80pc of the investment through a loan will the balance will be covered by cash equity contribution from the Union.

Occupying 2,000Sqm of land, the oil plant is expected to create direct job opportunities for 81 people and also indirectly by sourcing the seeds from the local area.

Established by eight primary cooperatives with 2,674 member farmers who contributed 87,000 Br (US$2,714) in capital, the Union is involved in marketing oilseeds, niger oil processing and input distribution.

Currently, the number of primary cooperatives affiliated with the union is 58 with more than 15,000 member farmers.

The country has an annual production capacity of 784,809tn of edible oil with an average per capita consumption of 8.9lt of oil a year.

Two years ago, there was a shortfall of 15,532tn of edible oil in the country.

The Agency aims to meet the oil demand and improve the market share of the unions.

The second plant, a mango and tomato processing plant, will have a capacity of processing 18,000tn of mangoes and 10,800tn of tomatoes annually.

It will also produce 954tn of mango jam, 13,305tn of mango juice and 1,922tn of tomato paste.

Having a total investment cost of 179.4 million Br (US$5.9m), the agro-processing plant will use 130.2 million Br (US$4.06m) for capital expenditures with the remaining set aside for initial working capital.

The main objective of the plant is to minimise the post-harvest wastage of the fruits by adding value, offer preservation and storage facilities.

It also aims to address the market access problem and increasing the productivity of the farmers and their income.