Saudi Agriculture Investor To Boost Ethiopian Coffee And Tea Output

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Ethiopia’s coffee export drive will be boosted by higher output from the venture of a major Saudi Arabian investor.

Horizon Plantations and Ethio Agri-CEFT plans to more than 2X its coffee production and expand tea output.

Horizon Plantations is part of the MIDROC umbrella group of companies, majority owned by Saudi Arabian investor Mohammed Hussein . Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $10.8-B.

“In the coming five years, we have a plan to raise our coffee produce to 25,000 tonnes,” Jemal Ahmed, managing director of the firms, said in an interview.

“One hundred percent of our coffee could be exported once we attained the quality we need,” he said, adding the group planned to set up an instant coffee processing plant soon.

The firm, which trades its premium coffee through the Neumann Kaffee Gruppe and counts Starbucks (), Munich-based Dallmayr, Germany’s 2nd largest roaster Tchibo, and Seattle-based Caffe Vita among its buyers.

It produces more than 10,000 tonnes of coffee from its 25,000 hectare plantations in southern Ethiopia’s, of which 70% is exported.

Ethiopia, Africa’s biggest producer of the coffee bean anticipates record-high exports by the end of the fiscal year ending July. Drought and disease has hit rival crops in .

Total coffee production in Ethiopia amounted to 450,000 tonnes over MY 2013/14, according to official figures. Officials expect a similar amount this season.

It exported around 190,000 tonnes in MY 2013/14, earning $841%, down from the record high of 193,000 tonnes the year before.

The son of a Saudi Arabian father and an Ethiopian mother, Al Amoudi has invested heavily in Ethiopian construction, agriculture and .

He plans to $5-B more in Ethiopia’s agriculture and agro-processing over the 2016-2021 frame, said Jemal, who is also managing director of Saudi Star – another subsidiary which grows food crops in 15,000 hectares in Ethiopia’s Gambela region.

MIDROC’s Ethio Agric-CEFT produces a total of 5,700 tonnes of tea leaves annually from the 1,249-hectare Wush Wush plantation and the 860-hectare Gumaro, and expects production to rise to 7,000 tonnes in the next few years.

The firm is set to export 1,300 tonnes by the end of the MY 2014-2015. Its buyers include Unilever’s () Lipton.

“Ethiopia is one of the very few countries which has opportunities to invest in virgin land. For us, (tea) was just a startup but the next step will be big,” Mr. Jemal said.

Stay tuned…

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