CÔTE D’IVOIRE – The Turkish group MFB International has allocated 100 billion CFA francs (US$168 million) for the construction of cocoa and flour milling plants in Cote d’ivoire, an initiative aimed at bolstering processing capabilities in the West African nation.

According to Ecofin Agence, the announcement was made in a press release published on July 24 by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Promotion of SMEs following an audience granted to Mehmet Faruk Basturk, CEO of the Group.

In detail, the ministry revealed that from the offering, US$74 million will be used to finance the installation of a flour mill dedicated to the production of bread flour as the country bets on stimulating the growth of the sector.

The investment comes after a recent move by the government of Côte d’Ivoire to release US$ 3.2 million in support of the bakery sector as part of a reform project aimed at supporting the modernization of the sector.

Bread is one of the most consumed foodstuffs in Côte d’Ivoire, produced by nearly 2,000 bakeries in the country, but various challenges have undermined the industry’s performance.

According to the authorities, the country schemes to strengthen the quality of training for bakers, limit taxation, as well as pursue stabilization of bread prices through robust initiatives such as boosting local flour production.

Once completed, the flour milling factory is envisaged to reduce the country’s flour purchases on the international market, given that in 2021, the country imported more than 46 billion CFA francs (US$78 million) of flour, according to BCEAO data.

According to Faruk, the agri-food industry offers many investment opportunities for local and foreign operators in Côte d’Ivoire hence the investment is timely.

Souleymane Diarrassouba, Minister of Commerce further disclosed that the work to launch these two projects is scheduled to start no later than the fourth quarter of 2023.

The remaining US$94 million will be allocated to the construction of a cocoa processing unit. According to Ibrahima Sy, vice-president of MFB, this new factory will have a processing capacity of 175,000 tons of beans per year.

In the sector, the Eburnean nation aims in particular to increase its cocoa grinding capacity to more than 1.1 million tonnes by 2025 against a level of around 972,000 tonnes in 2022.

The minister further stated that once operational, the two factories would create 500 new direct jobs in the food industry.

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