Food producer Agriterra (LON:AGTA) said this morning it plans to expand its Sierra Leone cocoa trading business Tropical Farms Limited to 40 locations this year from 12 currently as part of an aggressive growth strategy.
As part of the strategy, TFL will also extend its focus into coffee and palm oil.
Negotiations are already underway to secure a 15-acre site in the new airport development zone close to the capital Freetown, while advanced discussions are also taking place to acquire a cocoa plantation in the south-east of the country.
The group is well financed to roll out its ambitious plans after raising US$15 million last year from investors at 3 pence a share.
Today’s announcement underlines the commitment to diversify its agricultural operations, which is currently focused on the production and processing of maize in Mozambique, and rearing cattle.
Agriterra wants to be a “field to fork” operator across a number of sectors but focused on Africa, so cocoa, coffee and palm oil fit that bill.
It has also made a bold and decisive move into logistics by signing a concession agreement to run and develop the port of Conakry in Guinea.
The 30 hectare site is a gateway for all sorts of exports from palm oil, cocoa, rice and livestock, through to industrial commodities such as iron ore and bauxite.
Chief executive Andrew Groves said today: "Our cocoa buying and trading operation in Sierra Leone, TFL, is rapidly advancing its aggressive growth strategy to become a leading in-country trader of sustainable and traceable cocoa by the end of the year.
“In line with this, it is focussed on building its direct buying register, securing a major new 15-acre management facility and acquiring a large cocoa plantation. Having done the leg work and built its foundation and reputation, it is also looking to expand its commodity reach to include coffee and palm oil.
"TFL's exciting business model provides a third revenue stream for Agriterra and complements our other agricultural businesses, which comprise maize farming and milling, the cattle ranching business which has reached 2,900-head, feedlot facilities and soon to be finished abattoir services and palm oil.”