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André Schaap, Farm Forte Europe:
“We’ll arrive strongly on the market with Nigerian sweet potatoes”
Nigeria has thousands of hectares of fertile agricultural land, but the West African country is unable to gain access to export markets. The country wasn’t present at global fairs such as Fruit Logistica in recent years, but that is now changing. Due to, among other things, a Dutch shareholder, the company Farm Forte Europe has now started growing sweet potatoes for the European market on 5,000 hectares. 6,000 additional hectares have also been bought to expand the production.
André Schaap is involved in the project as co-shareholder. “We’ll start with the production of American varieties, which are also grown in Spain and Egypt. Nigeria’s potential is enormous. The country has 80 million hectares of agricultural land that isn’t farmed. The availability of land is therefore not a problem. With the first 5,000 hectares we’ll be able to grow 20 million kilograms of sweet potatoes annually,” the Dutchman says. They intend to not just offer the sweet potatoes fresh, but also processed into mashed potatoes and chips.
“The government sees the importance of the agrarian sector. Youth unemployment is an enormous problem in Nigeria, and we’ve started the social ambition to let 500 young people run the production of sweet potatoes on one hectare. We support them with the necessary mechanisation such as tractors, harrows and ploughs. We additionally work with about 1,500 farmers who have three to five hectares of land,” André says.
“The production of sweet potatoes is a well-known production in Nigeria. We’re now trying various varieties on experimental fields. We’re working hard on attaining GlobalGap certification.” The first samples have been sent, and these look promising. “We’ll arrive on the market strongly,” André promises. Farm Forte Europe will be present during the Fruit Logistica (Hall 26-D10) to introduce the Nigerian sweet potatoes to the general public.
For more information:
Farm Forte Europe
Publication date: 1/30/2018
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