Agriterra (LON:AGTA) has taken an important step in developing its cocoa operations in Sierra Leone by acquiring a five acre site in Kenema, the country’s third largest city, in order to develop a processing and management facility.
Last month it set out ambitious plans for its Tropical Farms subsidiary, which will expand its cocoa operation to 40 locations from 12 currently.
Agriterra’s strategy is to become a leading buyer, trader and producer of high quality, sustainable and traceable cocoa in Sierra Leone.
The 2,000 square metre cocoa facility will be next to a dual carriageway, which is the main artery in and out of the cocoa growing region of the country.
It will also house administrative and buying offices as well as vehicle maintenance facilities.
The Africa-focused agricultural group also said it hopes to build a much larger state-of-the-art collateral management depot in the capital Freetown.
This will serve as the main hub within Sierra Leone, providing access to the international markets for all TFL’s commodities.
Negotiations to secure a 15-acre site in the new airport development zone are progressing, said Agriterra chief executive Andrew Groves.
"Our efforts to build relationships with farmers across the country and increase our buying network are also progressing encouragingly,” he added.
“This is the backbone to the business so we are delighted to now be working with over 3,500 farmers and to be building our network of buying points with a target of achieving 40 buying points by the end of the year.
“Additionally, we continue to assess our options to expand our commodity reach to include coffee and palm oil.
"We remain highly confident about the future of TFL, particularly in light of the highly attractive economic fundamentals of the cocoa market, and believe that we are ideally positioned to build on our standing as a leading trader of high quality sustainable and traceable cocoa."
Agriterra is currently focused on the production and processing of maize in Mozambique, and rearing cattle.
It wants to be a “field to fork” operator across a number of sectors but focused on Africa, so cocoa, coffee and palm oil fit that bill.
It has also made a bold and decisive move into logistics by signing a concession agreement to run and develop the port of Conakry in Guinea.
The 30 hectare site is a gateway for all sorts of exports from palm oil, cocoa, rice and livestock, through to industrial commodities such as iron ore and bauxite.