Gonde Import & Export Enterprise is going to commission a tomato processing plant, at the cost of 100 million Br in Adama (Nazareth), 100Km south-west of the capital.
The new plant, expected to start operations in eight months time, has a production capacity of processing 50qls of tomatoes an hour. The Company has already constructed the factory on a 2,400sqm plot of land and is currently waiting to commission the machinery, which is expected to be imported from Italy.
After acquiring the plot from its former private owners, Gonde put the land into a lease system with the City Administration. For the civil works of the factory, Gonde invested 30 million Br.
Gonde has also secured a 30 million Br lease finance from the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) to import the machinery. The Company and the Bank, whose priority area is agro-processing, signed an agreement two months ago. Presently, Gonde is awaiting a loan disbursement in foreign currency in a bid to import the machine.
The plant was designed initially with the aim of opening a flour and pasta manufacturing plant. But the Company diverted to agro-processing for two major reasons, according to Bezu Beyen, CEO of Gonde- a firm that has been engaged in import and export, and farming business since 1998.
“We engaged in harvesting vegetables so that we can sustainably supply the inputs, and the unavailability of tomato paste processing companies led us to divert to agro-processing,” said Bezu.
The Company has a 100ha vegetable farm in Arsi, Oromia Regional State. It has invested 30 million Br in the farm and is exporting the vegetables to France and Israel.
In Ethiopia, there are three tomato paste processing plants namely Gonder Food Processing Factory, Melge Wendo Food Processing Factory and Upper Awash Agro Industry Enterprise.
The largest one is Upper Awash Agro Industry that was established in 1979 under the government’s property but was privatised to Midroc. It packs Merti brand tomato pastes at its plant situated along the upper bank of the Awash River.
Through the processing plant, Gonde is expected to create job opportunities for 250 permanent and 100 temporary workers. It currently employs more than 500 individuals on a permanent and temporary basis, in its import, export and farming lines of business.
“We are planning to change the loan arrangement into project financing to get working capital,” Bezu told Fortune.
Recently, the company made a deal with Louvres Hotel Group to open Golden Tulip in Adama with an investment capital of half a billion Br. Golden Tulip Adama is expected to be operational in two years with 137 bedrooms, a spa, gymnasium, swimming pool, two restaurants, a bar, a coffee shop, multipurpose assembly hall, children’s playground and a nightclub.
Vegetables account for 1.7pc of the cultivated land in the country with a harvesting area of 239,609ha, of which tomato farms cover 6,298ha.
Agro-processing is one of the primary focus areas of the government for the second edition of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), according to Mebrhatu Meles (PhD), state minister of Industry.
“We are assisting both local and international investors to engage in agro-processing,” said Mebrhatu three weeks ago, on the third Africa Microfinance Week held at Sheraton Addis Hotel.
The government has planned to construct four agro-industrial parks in four regional states; Amhara- Bure, Oromia- Ziway, Tigray- Bahker and Southern Nations, Nationalities & Peoples’- Sidama, at an aggregate cost of 870 million dollars.
The country also targets to add 13 more agro-processing corridors. The total cost for the parks is estimated to reach 1.5 billion dollars. For the 17 agro-industrial and other light manufacturing parks, seven million square metres of land will be available.
Source : Fortune