Mukete Estates Limited, an agri-food company in Cameroon, produces a range of products from cocoa to rubber, and more recently, with the help of an agricultural support programme, pineapples.
Nfon Victor Mukete introduced a pineapple plantation to his business, Mukete Estates Limited, in 2014. With a workforce of 25 people to grow pineapples on 44 ha, the plantation produced 1,200 t of pineapples in the first year. A government programme to support agri-businesses, Agropole, also extended support to Mukete from 2014, providing the business with a processing unit to produce fruit juices on site and farm equipment (including two tractors, a generator and water pumps) worth over €1 million. With this support, Mukete has been able to dramatically expand production; with a workforce of over 500 people, 8,260 t of pineapples were produced in the first 9 months of 2017 on 118 ha.
The processing and marketing of pineapples on site has added value to the fruit; pineapples from the farm weigh 2 kg on average and can be sold for €0.60, whereas 1 l of pineapple juice sells for €3. Adding value by processing the pineapples into fresh slices and fruit juice has also attracted a chain of auxiliary marketing businesses. The packaged slices and juice are mostly bought from the Estate by women and youths at wholesale prices who, in turn, resell them in markets and at other social gatherings.
Mukete's son and manager of the plantation, Godfred, explains that the plantation's pineapples are washed and cut at the crown to make packaging easier and the fruits are packed in crates for export to Cameroon, Chad, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon with the trademark 'Ananas du Cameroun'. Godfred states that 20% of production is currently exported, but with increasing demand and production the aim is to double exports in the near future.
The expansion of Mukete Estates has also opened up employment opportunities for young people. Some youths, for example, have set up roadside stalls to sell the pineapples and pineapple juice that they have bought from the estate. "I am happy with the business," explains 25-year-old Justice Ngwe, who makes a profit of about €4 a day selling fresh pineapple slices. "It provides me with income to support my daily living."
The company also trains over 200 youths every year in pineapple cultivation from the planting stage through to nursing, harvesting and selling. "Engaging youths in agribusiness is a sure way to create jobs and eliminate food insecurity and poverty in Cameroon in particular, and Africa at large," explains Louis Magloire Mbarga Atangana, Cameroon's Minister of Trade. "The Mukete Estate pineapple plantation is setting the example for other investors," he adds.
The company is planning to continue to increase production to 16,000 t by 2018 and 26,000 t by 2020. "Over the next 3 years we hope to become one of the biggest suppliers of pineapples in the central African region," Godfred explains. The government has also announced plans to construct a 15 km road to serve the Estate and improve transport links to markets.