Nigeria’s leading engineering construction company, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, has launched an ultra-modern cashew processing plant in Epe, a coastal town in Lagos State.
The state-of-the-art plant, described as one of West Africa’s most ultra-modern cashew processing plants, is in line with the company’s strategic plan to transform into a conglomerate in the near future.
The new and uniquely processed Julius Berger cashew was given the brand name “Mighty Kashoo”, and promotes the company’s sustainable business offerings at diversifying into the economically significant agricultural industry in addition to its thriving construction major.
Mutiu Sunmonu, chairman of Julius Berger’s board of directors, who presented the keynote address at the event, said the occasion marks a pivotal moment in the company’s history.
Sunmonu disclosed that the new factory is semi-automated for premium international quality cashew processing and designed to produce about 60 tonnes per day. He said Julius Berger is seriously committed to creating and sustaining increasing value and playing a significant role in contributing to Nigeria’s GDP.
“We are ready to succeed and move in the right direction tremendously for Nigeria, our employees and shareholders,” he said.
On Julius Berger’s strategic diversification from being only an engineering construction entity into agricultural produce processing, the chairman said the company still has other projects in the pipeline as it aims to transform into a conglomerate.
Lars Richter, managing director, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, noted that the commissioning of the company’s first cashew processing plant marks another significant milestone in its partnering relationship with Nigeria.
“Our launch into agriculture is part of our larger ambition to diversify the Julius Berger Group, expand our positive impact and extend our contribution to Nigeria beyond construction,” Richter noted.
Tobias Meletschus, Julius Berger’s director, corporate development, in his remark after a tour round the factory, described the company’s first step into agro-processing as a tremendous achievement and a reflection of the company’s determination towards greater corporate growth.
Emphasising the value the company has productive and result-oriented partnerships that are innovative and guarantee highest quality of product and service, Meletschus said Julius Berger is already partnering with farmers and has employed over 300 workers with impressive payroll as it targets a zero-waste policy in the production plant.
“All these alongside the fact that our cashew is farmed and processed locally makes our efforts homegrown and essentially unique,” Meletschus added.
Top cashew research institution, GIZ, eminently represented by a delegation led by Rita Weidinger, GIZ programme leader for West Africa, commended Julius Berger for its bold diversification into the agricultural sector via the cashew value chain.
“In Nigeria, after an intense opportunity mapping phase where we were assessing potential sectors, we have identified the cashew value chain as a promising sector to achieve our objectives,” Weidinger said.
“We are very happy that we found Julius Berger Nigeria as a strong and committed private sector partner and we are joining forces to collaborate on professionalising skills development and enhancing the competitiveness of the cashew value chain in Nigeria,” she stated.
After the tour of the processing plant and inspection of the finished and packaged Julius Berger cashew for export, Abimbola Oguntuyi, who represented Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, minister of Agriculture, commended Julius Berger for the well thought-out investment, employment-generating initiative and gross domestic product-improving project.