The Almond Industry in Africa
The almond is a specie of tree native to the Mediterranean climate of the Middle East but it is widely cultivated in several other nations. With loads of health benefits that come from almond including vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein amongst others, it is a tree of utmost important. In both developing and developed world, the demand for this fruit has increased exponentially. Over the past five years, world consumption has grown 10% annually.
Almond Grows in the Mediterranean climate
Almond thrive in Mediterranean countries including Western Cape of South Africa and the Northern countries like Tunisia and Morocco. Owing to the demand for wet winter climate for the almond seed to thrive, it does not do well in the tropical regions of Africa like the West Africa. Optimal growth of almond seed occurs between 15°C to 30°C, Tropical Africa including Nigeria may never have such not even in Jos, the coolest state in the country. In addition, About 300 to 600 hours of chilling is needed before the bug break dormancy at a temperature as low as 7°C.
Investment opportunities in the Almond industry
Africa is generally a virgin field, a green land filled with many untapped and under tapped potential. The presence of arable agricultural land in a nature prepared climate ready for exploit abounds. The growth and processing of almond is a great area many investors have left untapped even as the consumption of almond has largely grown in the continent and beyond. Though very few countries in Africa are making move though not very significant, to tap the great potential and opportunity in this business, a lot of space still exists. The South African for instance, there exist a big negative trade balance in the almond industry. In 2017, Almond import stood at 2713 tons while producing only about 200 tons to 300 tons. Majority of the imported almond produce into the country is mostly processed ones from Europe and America. With domestic and local demand for Almonds increasing, there is opportunity for investors in South Africa to develop the capacity to supply these markets. In addition, major Almond producing countries including US, Spain and Australia cannot increase production due to limited farmland and high production cost. This presents good opportunity for Africa to increase its own production.
The northern African country Morocco is another fertile land for growth and processing of almond. With an annual production of about 112,681 tons of sweet Almond, the country is set for an investment opportunity. With ideal Mediterranean conditions for growth, the nut cultivation is done in many zones of the country. It is sad that majority of these produce from morocco is done in small-scale farming. Therefore, investors has sole opportunity of venturing into the country and explore this area in a mechanized and large-scale form. A processing solution is equally needed to increase market and market value of the product. Almond is used to make an almond paste, which is the primary ingredient in pastry fillings and many deserts. It is equally used in preparation of Sellou a sweet snack with a long shelf life, to make a spread known as amlou or almond beverages.
Labour is generally cheap in Africa, the cost of starting the business is not as high compared o most developed countries of the world. It is estimated that cost ranges from $9,000/ha to $11,000/ha (excluding land acquisition), which is three times cheaper than a comparable land size in the US or Australia. Land, labour, good weather and enabling environment are readily available in many if not all part of Africa, this is an outstanding advantage.
The fruit is highly valued and in high demand due to its nutrition benefits. There is ready market for Almond fruit across the countries, especially in non-almond producing countries.
Come invest in almond!