ETHIOPIA – The Oromia Regional State has started an effort to open Bekelcha Tomato & Mango Processing Factory S.C., a new agro-processing company that produces tomato and mango juice, in Neqemte, 318km away from Addis Abeba, with an investment capital of 136 million Br.

Founded by the Oromia Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency and Oromia Forestry and Wildlife Bureau (OFWB), the Company is owned by 150 youths who are graduating from various universities in different professions after the completion of the construction.

“The role of the Bureau and the Agency is to support the Company although they funded and initiated the project,” said Getachew Geleta, deputy director of the Agency.

“Apart from reducing unemployment, the Company will help the country to save foreign currency spent to import these juices.”

On June 9, 2017, the cornerstone to construct the company was laid down by Lemma Megersa, president of Oromia Regional State close to the industrial zone of Neqemte.

The Company, covering six hectares of land, will be constructed with a working capital of 136 million Br and a 122.5 million Br project cost.

The former is secured from the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) and OFWB.

DBE provided 70pc of the loan while the rest is from OFWB, which supplies mangoes to the company from its 500ha land in Neqemte and Assosa.

Bekelcha, which is owned by 150 graduates, took the loan from DBE as a long-term loan.

The factory is targeted to get the tomato resources from Eastern and Western parts of Oromia such as Srena and Angergete, which are endowed with the resource.

“It also enhances the productivity of the farmers by creating market integration,” said Getachew.

The Company also has a plan to sell its products mainly in urban parts of Oromia and Addis Abeba.

Upon completion of the construction in the next budget year, the Company will have a capacity of producing 3,000kg of mango and 2,000kg of tomato juice an hour, according to Getachew.

To realise the project, a new project office, comprised of shareholders and OFWB, is formed to overlook the tender process and to hire a contractor for the construction of the factory.

Oromia Construction and Oromia Urban & Housing Development offices will supervise the building of the project.

Also, experts from ET fruit and Addis Ababa University (AAU) will provide technical assistance to the project, according to Getachew.

Addis Fortune: June 17, 2017