Former US President invests in Rwanda food venture

RWANDA – Former US President Bill Clinton has joined a US$ 60 million joint venture in Rwanda that will produce fortified foods, mainly for export to the regional market.

Through his charity, the Clinton Foundation, Clinton has signed a deal with two partners organisations, DSM, a Netherlands based company and ETG, a regional agricultural supplier.

The factory, with capacity to process over 20,000 tons of raw materials, is one of the interesting deals Rwanda completed last year, according to Claire Akamanzi, COO for Rwanda Development Board (RDB). 

The factory will be producing mainly, milled maize (corn), processed infant cereals and fortified baby porridge and other related products. The first product will be on the market early 2016.

The Rwandese government is mobilising farmers to grow soya beans, maize and production of milk to ensure the supply chain. At the moment, the country imports most of these products, including powdered milk, soya and cereals, especially from Uganda, Kenya and Europe.

“It’s in the agreement to guarantee raw material supply from local farmers,” says Tonny Nsanganira, Minister of State for Agriculture.

With a recent credit line from International Finance Corporation (IFC), farmers are accessing loans from Kenya Commercial Bank to grow soya and maize, on a large scale to provide the first batch of raw materials for the factory.

Currently Sosoma and Minimex are the only local companies producing baby food, but not enough for the demand. In 2014, 4.5% of imported products into the country were fortified foods.

According to Akamanzi, Rwanda registered 111 projects, from which $549 million was invested in 2014, comprising of foreign direct investment (FDI, $213m), local ($159 million) and joint ventures ($177 million).

The final products from the factory are largely meant for export, according to the Trade Minister, Francois Kanimba.

ETG, or Export Trading Group, owns and manages vertically integrated agriculture supply chains in Africa with operations spanning procurement, processing, warehousing, distribution and merchandising.

The group is present in more than 30 African countries and in North America, India, China and South East Asia.

ETG has 26 such processing and packaging plants in Africa and Asia, handling maize, rice, cashew nuts, wheat, pulses, soybeans, sesame and coffee

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