BusinessDay
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New jobs coming as Farmforte of Netherlands berths on Gracefield Island

In a move that is clearly a big plus for Gravitas Investment in particular and the Nigerian economy at large, a major agricultural value chain management company from Netherlands, Farmforte, has committed to the Gracefield Island where it will be building facilities for its operations in Nigeria.

Farmforte is coming on the heels of 9Mobile, the vibrant telecom provider which, just a couple of weeks ago, entered into an enterprise telecom solution agreement with Gravitas, the Gracefield Island project owner. 9Mobile was followed closely by HealthCare Outpost, a health service provider based out of the United States, which was welcome on Tuesday, August 27, to Gracefield Island as its main operation centre in Nigeria.

Gracefield Island is a city development project set to cover a land mass of 100 hectares. It is designed and being constructed to function as a green, integrated urban conurbation. The vision of its developers is to build a livable and sustainable city where technology will hold sway as the new way to go.

At an off-take contract signing event at the weekend, André Schaap, the managing director   of Farmforte, said his company’s ambition  fits snuggly into the vision of sustainability of Gracefield Island and its cutting edge technology in enhancing farm productivity, preservation and helping small holder farmers to access both domestic and international markets which align with the vision and implementation plan of Gravitas to make  Gracefield Island a desirable destination for enterprise and wealth creation.

Osazuwa Osayi, Country Representative and Chief Executive of Farmforte Solutions in Nigeria, explained to BusinessDay in an interview at the event that their interest in Gracefield Island  is because the city is strategically and centrally located, considering the different kinds of customers they have across Lagos.

He added that it was easy to take a quick decision to co-locate its core operation facilities on Gracefield Island  as the destination reflects the ethical approach of his company to business, pointing out that the city’s infrastructure implementation plan was so clear and encouraging that they could enhance the efficiency of their operation by being on Gracefield Island.

A major highpoint of the coming of Farmforte into Gracefield Island is wealth creation through job creation which aligns with the vision of the city. “About 350 jobs will be created within our first year on Gracefield Island. That will be increasing as our production progresses to about 850 direct jobs and a couple of other indirect jobs,” Osayi assured.

Presently, Farmforte which opened for business in Nigeria in 2014 has created about 300 direct jobs. Indirectly, they have created over 800 jobs and, according to the country rep, they engage about 22,000 small holder farmers that produce different kinds of farm products.

In a country where unemployment figure is very high, estimated at 20 million by the National Bureau of Statistics, this is a good development given its impact on household income and the economy at large.

In welcoming Farmforte, Olufemi Babalola,  the Chief Executive of Gravitas, expressed his delight in having Farmforte at Gracefield Island and committed his company to giving them necessary support in order for their business to thrive even more.

The company will be setting up a facility in Gracefield Island for processing their products and distributing same to different parts of the world. “Farmforte is an agriculture value chain development company. We do processing of raw materials and make them ready for the market; we supply our products to retail outlets across the country and other parts of the globe,” he explained.

Continuing, Osayi said, “largely, we have three brands, including sustainable agriculture, value addition and market creation. On sustainable agriculture practice, we grow products either directly or through farmers on our network. We add value to these different products. Our main focus is sweet potato. We add value to sweet potato crops and export to European markets. We have sales offices in these markets and other parts of the world.”

He hinted that Gracefield Island would be a distribution theatre for them because, from there, they would  be moving products to different parts of the country and, the same way, products from different parts of the country would be moved into the place for processing.

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