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Morila: an open-pit mine to become an agribusiness centre

Based on the model of the Songhai Centre in Benin, Morila Agrobusiness will succeed a gold mine in Mali. On 8 October 2018, Prime Minister Soumeylou Boubeye Maïga came to visit the project in progress.

In Koumantou, 235 kilometres from Bamako, on National Road 7, a 45 kilometre track leads visitors to Morila Agrobusiness. The centre, the result of an ambitious agribusiness project, is planned to replace the Morila gold mine, which is scheduled to close in early 2020. The agropole will carry out viable economic activities for the community.

According to Mark Bristow, executive director of Randgold, the current operator, mining companies are very often accused of destroying the environment. To this end, "converting Morila's infrastructure into a basis for the development of an agro-industrial zone will not only develop an alternative economy for the region, but will also create a centre of excellence for agriculture in Mali," he said.

Beninese model

Hilaire Diarra, Rangold's Environment Director, led the visit of the Prime Minister and his delegation on 8 October 2018. He was accompanied by Father Godfrey Nzamujo, who initiated the Songhai Centre in 1985 in Ouando, one of the five districts of Porto-Novo, the capital of Benin. The Songhai Centre is indeed the model claimed by the promoters of Morila Afrobusiness.

The Songhai Centre is a centre for bio-production, bio-transformation, bio-consumption and bio-energy. It is also a training centre with the Songhaï Leadership Academy. Today, it attracts young people from all over Africa.

Laying hens and mango trees

Built on an area of 1,250 hectares, Morila Agrobusiness is served by the Bagoé River located 35 kilometres away. Five agricultural sectors are in operation: poultry, fish, fruit, beekeeping and livestock feed production. In poultry farming, about 59,000 layers and broilers are being raised; 24 floating cages with a capacity of 12,000 fry are being used in fish farming; in arboriculture, 8 hectares of mango trees of the Kent variety are being planted; also 1,000 Kenyan-type hive units are being tested in Morila.

Samou Mariko, mayor of Sanso, the municipality that houses the Morila mine, praised the construction of the Morila Agrobusiness Centre. For him, the main aim is to slow down the rural exodus after the mine closes.

Other developments required

In front of the authorities, the mayor pleaded for the electrification of his village and for the asphalting of the 45 kilometers track that separates his village from the tar. "Producing is good, preserving and marketing is even better," he said.

In Morila, several national and local companies showcased their expertise in agribusiness and power generation. These include: Société Générale de Business Agricoles (SOGEBA Sarl), Kledu Group, Zabbaan Holding, Domba Transformers Association, or KAMA SA Group, specialized in electricity production and distribution.

Mamadou TOGOLA, JSTM Special Envoy in Morila

The original version of this article has been published by the Journal Scientifique et Technique du Mali. English translation by Afriscitech.

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