Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Rubber plantation closer to fruition

An undisclosed Indian firm is apparently interested in a joint venture (JV) investment with the government’s rubber plantation and processing industry. The National Nucleus Project for a Rubber Plantation and Process Joint Venture was in the works for the past five years after a feasibility study conducted by foreign and local professionals was not able to attract interested investors.
The Indian company’s recently announced interest is the first for the joint venture investment. From February this year, the government had invited companies to submit bids of interest on the JV investment. Sources at the project office told Capital that the Indian company was the only firm that submitted a bid after the invitation was publicized by the Privatization & Public Enterprises Supervising Agency (PPESA), which administers state owned enterprises.
The government invited international and local investors interested in a joint venture or partial rubber investment to come on board. The plan is for the investment to be conducted on the west and southwestern side of the country, but had not attracted private investors so far. 
Rubber plantation, mostly needed for tyre production, is one of the major projects whose development has been scheduled to be undertaken during the government’s five year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP).
A year ago, the course of action set was to install a rubber sheet processing plant at one of the rubber tree plantation areas in the southwest of the country by the government itself.
Over the past few years the government has shown greater interest in participating in rubber development, making various feasibility studies individually and in collaboration with foreign firms in the selected areas suitable for investment. The project has however not yet been implemented as it demands a huge amount of investment, beyond the government’s capacity. Meanwhile experts from the agency project have visited factory sites in Côte d’Ivoire and Malaysia; the biggest rubber producers in the world.
Currently PPESA has a rubber plantation that is getting ready to produce latex, a major raw material to produce rubber sheet, on a 1,051hct of land at Bebeka Coffee Agriculture Development, 12Km from Mizan Teferi town, 561Km southwest of Addis.
In addition a 2,000hct on Addis Birhan Rubber Tree Development, which is close to Bebeka farm, has been allocated recently for rubber investment by the state. Addis Birhan is controlled by the former project office of Rubber Plantation and Processing that recently formed an enterprise.
According to the sources, the processing plant will be installed in the same area as the new plantation compound of Addis Birhan.
As per feasibility study, 1.7 tons of dry rubber sheets can be produced per hectare per month. The rubber tree can give its white liquid rubber input (latex) for over thirty years from five years of age.
Ethiopia has over 200,000 hectares of potential land for rubber plantation in SNNPR and Gambela.
Wondafrash Assefa, public relation head of PPESA, told Capital that the issue is in too early a phase to disclose the name of the Indian company.