At Yaligimba, completion of the CPO mill by the Company's contractor continues apace and testing of some modules is underway and the charging of equipment with lubricants and hydraulic fluids has commenced. The company expects the mill to produce its first CPO by the end of June 2013. Once the new palm oil mill is operational, the Company will have access to an additional 3,757 ha of producing palms. The Yaligimba plantation is expected to achieve operating results similar to Lokutu on a per hectare basis.
The Yaligimba palm oil mill will have an initial processing capacity of 30 tonnes per hour of FFB, with the potential to increase to 60 tonnes per hour in a phase 2 expansion. The Yaligimba palm oil mill's commissioning will mean that the Company will have installed processing capacity of 55 tonnes per hour across its entire operations; sufficient to process 230,000 tonnes of FFB per annum. It is anticipated that under the current planting program and internal forecasts for yield improvement, there will be no requirement for additional processing capacity, other than the phase 2 expansion at Yaligimba, until 2020.
In April 2013, Benedict Rich joined the Company as Managing Director of PHC. Mr. Rich has extensive experience managing plantation operations in emerging markets and has also been responsible for various aspects of research and development programs in both tea and oil palm. He is ISO qualified and has a keen interest and understanding of sustainability and the environment in the palm oil industry, having helped develop the industry's environmental, social and sustainability standards.
Arable Farming Operations
Arable As at and for the three months ended Mar. 31 2013 2012----------------------------------------------------------------------------Land Available (ha) 10,000 10,000Land Cleared (ha) 2,000 2,000Land Prepared (ha) 1,700 1,700Land Planted (ha) 90 365
Recent developments in the arable farming operations
In October 2012, the most recent trial planting of 500 ha of rice was completed. The Company planted NERICA-4® (New Rice for Africa-4), an upland rice variety suited to African soil and weather conditions. Harvest of this crop commenced in mid-February 2013 with mechanized harvesting supplemented through local casual labour.
Results from the trial planting were positive with in-field yields of around 4 tonnes of paddy rice per ha. Mechanized harvesting achieved an average yield of 3.1 tonnes of paddy rice per ha over the first 46 ha harvested in February 2013 and 2.5 tonnes per ha from the subsequent 77 ha harvested mechanically by the end of March 2013. The harvest was completed in April 2013 and 685 tonnes of dry paddy rice was harvested from 395 ha. Yield per ha declined as the harvest progressed due to in-field losses caused by the protracted harvest period and insufficient harvesting machinery to complete the harvest in the optimum time period. The Company had ordered a second combine harvester to support the harvest but, due to shipping delays unrelated to the DRC, it did not arrive in time to participate in the beginning of the harvest.
As previously reported in April 2013, following quality tests and qualifying as an approved supplier to Heineken N.V., the Company commenced selling rice grown on its farm to Bralima, Heineken's wholly-owned DRC subsidiary. Bralima has agreed to purchase 1,100 tonnes of rice during 2013.