Alhaji Isa Gerawa, Chairman, Gerawa Global Oil Mills Nigeria Ltd has said that the newly built 1,200 tonnes per day solvent extraction plant in Kano would create about 5,000 jobs for youths in the state and beyond.

Gerawa, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja that his company had invested $50 million (N18 billion) to expand its soybean processing plant and vegetable oil refinery in Kano due to the favourable agricultural development in Nigeria.

The Kano-based entrepreneur described the wholly owned indigenous plant located at Tokarawa Industrial Estate, Kano, as the ‘‘biggest single Oil Mill plant in West Africa.

‘‘The plant has a standard laboratory, 10,000 capacity tonnes soybean storage silos, 15 million litres soybean oil storage 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 suppliers of soybean in Katsina and virtually all states in North central Nigeria,’’ he said.

On future plans of the company, Gerawa said the grain and oil company plans to export its end products of soybean meal and soybean oil, including crude and deodorized oil, in the next three years.

‘‘As a grain 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.

Gerawa commended the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for implementing policies and programmes aimed at repositioning Nigeria as a food secured nation.

He listed interventions through the Anchors Borrows Programme, the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative and the irrigations projects that have increased water availability in key food-producing states, as key agricultural reforms initiative worthy of commendation.

‘‘However, I appeal to President Buhari to ban the importation of all categories of vegetable oil in the country to stimulate the local industries capabilities to grow and also meet the country’s edible oil needs.

‘‘While refined vegetable oil is on the list of import items banned by the Federal government, refined linseed, castor and olive oil; and crude vegetable oil is however not banned from importation,’’ he said.

The Kano-based businessman also appealed to the Federal Government to address the issue of poor access to finance for farmers and agro-investors, describing it as a major issue inhibiting agricultural development in the country.

Incorporated in 2004, Gerawa Oil Mills Nigeria Limited has transformed its operation from the mechanical processing method to the use of a chemical processing method with the installation of a solvent extraction plant in 2007 with a capacity of 200 tonnes per day.

The expansion project of the plant commenced in 2014 and was completed in 2017 with a combined production capacity of 1,200 tonnes per day, making it the ‘‘biggest single oil mill plant in West Africa.’’

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