Peanut oil production begins in Harar

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Flora EcoPower (Ethiopia) Plc, soon to be re-named Acazis Agro-Industry Plc, a subsidiary of Acazis AG, a German company, listed on the Frankfurt Stock exchange, which grows castor plants, is to begin producing peanut oil from its farm near Harar.
The company will become one of the biggest peanut oil producers in the country next to Hamaressa Edible Oil SC, the state owned oil factory located just outside Harar. Currently, Hamaressa is the single largest state owned peanut oil producer factory in the country. The area surrounding Harar is known for its abundant supply of ground nuts.
The new mill, Acazis Agro-Industry Plc’s oil mill in Fechatu, will begin the first test production runs in the coming months and expects larger scale production in Q/3 of 2012, according to Capital’s sources in the oil company.
The oil mill that was erected a few years ago for the production of castor oil has four presses and additionally has a Hexane oil-pressing unit (chemical extrusion). Each press can produce around10,550 liters of edible oil per day. The oil mill has undergone major renovation and has been adopted for edible oil production. The company officials will now focus entirely on the production of peanut oil instead of the non-foodcastor oil, because of the huge local market for edible oil. The oil mill factory was constructed at a cost of close to USD 8 million. In addition Swiss and German investors invested millions of dollars to renovate and refit the oil mill. The revenue from pressing the oil (including animal cake) per year is estimated to be around 5 million US-Dollars based on information obtained from Capital’s sources in the company.
The company is also cultivating castor beans on Government leased land, whereby around1,000 hectares are already cultivated and additional cultivation of around 1,000-1,500 hectares is expected during this year. Furthermore, during the start of cultivating castor, significant funds were committed into the fields in Hararghe and currently around 160 local workers have found permanent jobs in the oil mill and on the fields.“The sale of castor beans can easily be conducted at the spot market of the National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDE), India” states the company’s website. The export of castor beans brings much needed foreign currencies to Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian born Saudi business tycoon, Sheikh Mohamed Hussen Al Amoudi has also announced that his agro industry company located in Gambela regional state will soon commence peanut oil production.
Currently, palm oil imported by the government is the major supply of edible oil for the public. Due to lack of sufficient local production compared with the huge demand, the food oil market has not been tranquil over the last few years.
Meanwhile local oil producers that are mainly using sesame seeds have also been unable to get sufficient input for their production.
The growth of sesame seed exports is the major reason for the scarcity. Local oil millers have to pay high prices for sesame traders to compete with exporters or else halt their production. This competition drove the price of locally produced edible oil very high, sometimes higher than imported palm oil, discouraging consumers. 
Currently, locally produced food oil has close to a 100 percent price difference compared with the imported palm oil, which is 25 birr per liter.  However, locally produced edible oil is much healthier than palm oil.
Acazis AG,www.acazis.com, based in Gilching near Munich, Germany, operates in the cultivation and use of castor plants, the production of edible oils, the provision of any related services and the acquisition and management of companies and shareholdings in related companies as well as the carrying out Executive Board functions.