In Togo, youth and SMEs receive the African Development Bank’s full support
In a large building located in the Vakpossito district, south of the Togolese capital Lomé, the main equipment in the Agrokom soya processing plant is fully operational. In a few days, this group of young people will deliver 200 tonnes of organic soya meal to an international client.
“In 2011, we only produced 50 tonnes of meal for the local market. However, since 2016, our production has quadrupled, and we are now supplying the international market,” Daniel Komlan says proudly. Mr. Komlan is the managing director of Agrokom, a small business specialised in soya processing.
Daniel Komlan has assembled a day shift team of nine employees. But, with two additional machines purchased through a $20.3 million loan from the Support Project for Youth Employability and Integration in Growth Sectors (PAEIJ), financed by the African Development Bank, he plans to increase capacity quickly.
“We want to better meet demand. I now have machines that can process in 5 to 8 seconds, while in the past it took an hour. I will hire more youth, train two to three teams working in full three-shift cycle a day. The goal is to produce 10,000 tonnes per year by 2021,” he continues.
Agrokom sources his soya from a network of 5,000 organic producers and collectors in three major production regions: Kara, Atakpamé and Adjengré.
Kataya Wiyao is one of these producers. Supervised by the Notsé regional agriculture bureau (southern Togo), he receives financial support of approximately $1,000 from PAEIJ each year.
“For the 2017-2018 season, I produced three tonnes of soya. For the current season, I anticipate a harvest of six tonnes, or twice as much from my five hectares,” he stated. At 22 years old, he has one full-time employee, ten part-time employees. He is the family’s breadwinner and supports his parents.
The Agricultural Growth Connection (JCAT) also has big plans. Located on the edge of the Atakpamé agricultural area, some 150 km north of the capital, Lomé, this organization, specialising in the production and certification of organic soya, had stored over 10,200 tonnes of soya beans in the 2018-2019 season, harvested from nearly 7,400 hectares.
On Tuesday, its General Manager, Toto Yao, will meet with potential clients from France to approve the production and guarantee the quality of 15,000 tonnes of soya beans expected from the 2019-2020 harvest.
“The Bank’s financing ($272,000) will let us make a qualitative leap in our operations. In three years, we have gone from exporting 2,000 tonnes of soya beans to 5,000, then 7,000, and now 10,000 tonnes. We plan on beginning processing very soon, but that will require significant investment,” says Yao, who employs 47 youth on full-time basis.
The New Company for Marketing Agri-Food Products (NSCPA) is already making strides by moving to the processing stage. In six months, its plant for processing manioc starch will be built on a hectare of land in Atakpamé. This new plant will do away with manual production.
“We have signed an agreement with the Nigerian business, Niji Food, to deliver our entire starch production. With this plant, we will produce 50 tonnes per day,” explains NSCPA Director Dandji Koffi Ognankitan. Some 3,000 producers and 7,500 hectares of land are involved in providing manioc on a continuous basis.
“With over 35,000 jobs created, this is an example of an innovative project initiated by the Bank to encourage agri-industrial SMEs and youth jobs in the agricultural value chain,” stated Georges Bohoussou, the African Development Bank’s country representative for Togo. “This project is a reference point and a source of pride for the Togolese government in promoting youth employment,” he added.
The Bank’s active portfolio in Togo amounts to nearly $427 million. It spans almost all the country’s key economic development industries, specifically infrastructure, rural and sustainable development, professional development for youth, the private sector, economic governance, and financial and social inclusion.