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[ABUJA] Olam International invested US$150 million in animal-feed mills and poultry farms in Nigeria as it seeks to boost its agribusiness venture in Africa's biggest food market by population.
These include bird- and fish-feed mills with the capacity for 360,000 metric tons each, located in the northern Kaduna and western Kwara states, and a hatchery to produce 1.6 million day-old chicks weekly, the global food trader said in a statement handed to reporters Tuesday in Kaduna.
Feeds produced are estimated to support the production of 8 billion eggs and 100-million kilograms of poultry a year, the Singapore-based Olam said.
"Our new facilities will invigorate the industry by closing the supply gap in animal feed," Olam said in the statement.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari , who was at the opening, welcomed the venture as important for "national growth" at a time his government is looking to agriculture to end the country's dependence on oil, which provides two-thirds of state revenue.
A plunge in revenue caused by lower output and prices for oil saw Africa's most populous country of more than 180 million people suffer its worst economic slump in 25 years and undermined Mr Buhari's ability to meet his campaign promises, such as rebuilding infrastructure, revitalising the power industry and strengthening the national currency.
Several Nigerian companies have increased investment in agriculture with Presco and PZ Wilmar expanding their palm-oil output, while the Dangote Group, controlled by Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote, plans to invest US$3.8 billion in sugar and US$800 million in dairy products over the next three years.
Olam, which started operation in Nigeria in 1989 with purchases of cashew nuts, cocoa and shea nuts, is now one of the world's largest food traders with its presence in 70 countries.
Last year, 16 per cent of its revenue of US$20.6 billion came from Africa, led by Nigeria.