Essowe Batana, chairman of the board of the Agency for Promotion and Development of Agropolises in Togo (APRODAT)

"Of course people say it's not fast but today we're at the tender stage for architectural studies so that people can put forward all we need in the agroparc of ​​46 hectares", he told agridigitale.

"The procedure is a bit long but the physical work will begin in 2020," he said inviting "Togolese engineers to bid instead of leaving everything in the hands of foreigners."

Of the 65 billion announced, the Kara Basin Agropole pilot project has already mobilized more than 38 billion CFA from the African Development Bank (AfDB); the West African Development Bank (BOAD), Korean Funds and the Togolese State.

These funds are intended for the development of lowlands, dams, irrigated perimeters, installation of telecommunications, electricity and water infrastructures, construction and rehabilitation of boreholes; purchase of equipment and other materials, training, technical assistance, studies etc.

In addition to these major projects, some 60 boreholes are planned in the project to help people improve their living conditions.

"Tenders have already been launched for that. We received the bidders, we evaluated them and we have selected one who is supposed to start the works in November to provide the four prefectures of the zone covering 19 cantons with 20 new boreholes and rehabilitate 8 old who are in breakdowns by February-March 2020", he says.

The project didn't neglect the property security aspect at all. For this, several sensitization campaigns have been made for the populations.

"Those who are going to take will sign long-term contracts (49 to 99 years). It was necessary that people are warned in advance to prevent the situation whereby people will take areas, invest, make achievements and then we end up dealing with land issues. It is for this reason that they have voluntarily  identified the sites that they are willing to put at the disposal of the project", he testifies.

Thus, a list is already open to register all those who wish to settle on the 130,000 hectares that will be developed in the prefectures of Doufelgou, Kante, Dankpen and Bassar for the production, processing, marketing or export of rice sesame, soy, cashew, chicken meat, fish farming, etc.

"We have currently identified 65 sites but we have mapped 15 for 5,300 hectares now, we invite people, those who want to produce to register to quickly attract processors because we cannot transform without the raw material, some are coming already but we are waiting for others", calls Batana.

To prevent foreigners from grabbing land that will be made available, he invites Togolese youth to get together to buy blocks.

"To tell the truth, we want it to be real areas to reflect a real field, so we make available blocks of 50, 100, 200 hectares and so on. Young Togolese who cannot afford  can come by two, three or four to take one or more blocks. In fact, it is not expensive, less than 10,000 CFA per hectare per year. It is nothing for a farm because in reality it is agricultural entrepreneurs we want to install", he clarifies.

Submit your services!

For the development and desoldering of the sites, the Agency for Promotion and Development of Agropoles in Togo awaits proposals from service providers in this area.

"We are not going to exploit 50 hectares with the hoe. So we must necessarily use the tractor. Before we bring the tractor, we must remove the roots to allow the tractor to do his job. So, there's this job that's going to be done to lighten the load for those who want to take blocks, at least we need to clear the fields before giving them to people", Batana says.

For the processing units that will be set up to add value to the raw materials, there will be the possibility of buying the supplement from smallholders in the area.

"The Seamaul Foundation is already active in the field organising the farmers, train them in agricultural techniques, structure them in the production of different sectors," he says.

As far as the market is concerned, APRODAT is working with the High Authority for Quality and Environment (HAUQE) on the certification systems and standards that condition the different markets in order to allow the products to come out of these factories to penetrate all these markets.

The expected results

The project aims to create at least 25,000 jobs for women and young people in the region to increase the share of agricultural products processed locally (from 19% to 40%).

Thanks to private investments in the agro-park, 9000t of paddy rice is expected per year; 15000 t of corn; 10000t of soybean; 20000t of feed; 10,000t of cashew and 10,000t of sesame; a production of 3 million chicks per year; slaughter of 2 million broilers; strengthening the food and nutritional security of the population.

The mobilization of the Togolese private sector is also eagerly awaited for the success of this ambitious government project.

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