Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Guinness Peat to produce gari in Benin

A JOINT VENTURE agreement for the manufacture of gari from cassava in Benin has been signed, in London, between Guinness Peat International (GPI) and the Benin Development Bank (BBD).

The project aims to manufacture gari from locally grown cassava for the domestic market. It was identified by the Centre for Industrial Development, set up in 1977 by the Lome Convention to help accelerate the pace of industrial development in the ACP countries.

Gari is a staple food in Benin and traditionally it has been prepared by women at home and by small producers. It is estimated that the local gari market is currently undersupplied. Nevertheless the capacity of the plant will increase by 25% of the existing market because of competition from small producers and consumer preferences for the traditional taste of the product.

The project will also have an agricultural element as most of the cassava will be grown on company land, from seed imported from Nigeria. The Benin partners expect the project to be fully operational in 1986.

The Benin sponsor (BBD) decided to co-operate with GPI as a partner because GPI is prepared to take equity. Another advantage considered by the sponsor was GPI's experience of running a gari plant in Thailand and its willingness to provide technical management for the new plant in Benin.

During a meeting with the Benin sponsor, following the signing of the joint venture agreement, Dr. Isaac Akinrele Deputy Director of CID observed that it will be necessary to test the product in Benin to ensure that it will conform to local taste. He also drew attention to other gari plants operating in Nigeria and elsewhere in West Africa.

The total investment in this plant will amount to about US $2.1 million. Most of this (US $1.45 million) will be financed by equity of which the UK partner (GPI) will take 25% and the Benin partner (BBD) 75%. It is expected that the balance will be met by medium and long term loans from the Banque Ouest-Africaine de Developpement (BOAD).

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