History of MCFI

The Mauritius Chemical & Fertilizer Industry (MCFI) was founded by Antoine Harel Sr. in 1975, a few years after Mauritius obtained its independence from England. Mr Antoine Harel Sr. was a daring local businessman with a long term vision and he realised that it was vital for Mauritius to have a complex NPK fertilizer plant that could produce the whole range of fertilizer grades needed for our agriculture locally.

At that time, the Mauritian economy was mostly dependent upon the sugarcane crop. Consequently, fertilisers became an essential component in this flourishing industry despite the hard times faced by the sugar industry in 1975 and 1979 with cyclones Gervaise and Claudette.

Traditionally, fertilizers were being imported by well-established trading houses like Currimjee, IBL and Rogers but Antoine Harel Sr. was determined to make MCFI become the first local fertiliser manufacture and, above all, a reference in the local agronomic community.

The location of MCFI was carefully chosen after consultations with the Mauritian government headed by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. The Fort-George site was ideal for the project and for the creation of a deep water quay that could accommodate ships carrying bulk cargoes of inputs such as anhydrous ammonia, phosphate and muriate of potash (potassium chloride). Moreover, with the support of the government, the dredging of the port was done and the land in and around MCFI was reclaimed from the sea and raised to a level of 8 feet, to avoid any flooding from cyclones or tidal waves. The quay next to MCFI was deepened from 30 to 45 feet to enable the large bulk fertilizer vessels to berth.

The first fertilizer plant soon came to birth and it was an Ammonium Nitrate based Complex Plant which was comprised of:

  1. An Anhydrous Liquid Ammonia Storage Tank
  2. A Nitric Acid Production Plant
  3. A Liquid Ammonium Nitrate Production Plant and
  4. A Complex NPK Granulation Plant based on Spherodizer Process

 

Necessary funds were raised to realise the project and were estimated at Rs. 120 million, a sum which may be considered to be negligible nowadays. But in the 1970’s, it was the most ambitious project ever realised, as the most daring projects were barely reaching the Rs. 10 million investment benchmark.

A local team of builders, contractors and engineers such as Mauritius Building and Forges Tardieu along with the help of American experts, contributed in taking the project from grass root level to complete realisation.

After a few teething problems, MCFI succeeded in producing a complete range NPK complex fertilizer that were very quickly accepted as the fertilizer reference by the local agricultural community, the big sugar estates and small planters alike.

The realisation of MCFI Complex NPK Fertilizer Plant has opened the doors to the diversified industrialisation that Mauritius experienced at the time, and has shown the worth and high competence of Mauritians in achieving most ambitious and complex projects.

Today, the current management team strives to pursue the leading vision of Antoine Harel Sr., and the main ambition of the company nearly 40 years later, is now to invest in Africa. MCFI already has branches in Zambia and Tanzania, but MCFI endeavours to reach even further. The ultimate vision is to be the leader in the fertilizer and chemical business in the region and to diversify through new ventures.