AFRICA – ETC Group (ETG), an agricultural conglomerate connecting smallholder farmers to global markets, has partnered with IFC to boost food security across four countries in sub-Saharan Africa by increasing access to critical agricultural inputs and training services.
The initiative focused on supporting smallholder farmers along the maize, soybean, and groundnut value chains, is set to run from July 2022 to December 2025 beginning in Zambia, followed by Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
It targets an estimated 200,000 smallholder farmers who are set to benefit from expertise from ETG’s agri-inputs business division, Empowering Farmers Foundation (EFF), and IFC.
The overall goal is to enhance the sustainability of the targeted crops, improve last mile distribution of inputs such as fertilizer, and increase market linkages for smallholder farmers.
“We are delighted to partner with IFC on this project. Development of smallholder farmers is critical to addressing a looming food crisis.
“This initiative will also assist with introducing sustainable practices and in turn, increase farmer livelihoods,” said Anish Jain, ETG’s Chief Treasury Officer.
The core focus of the project will be on training different groups of stakeholders, including ETG field extension staff, agro-dealers, Village-Based Agents (VBAs) and farmer organizations.
Training of the VBAs is intended to strengthen them as an effective resource for farmers in the VBA network, whereas agro-dealer training is focused on strengthening their business analytics, budgeting and planning skills, and strategies for growing their business.
Farmer organization training will help the organizations become better distribution and product collection partners of ETG and smallholder farmers.
“This project is an opportunity for ETG and IFC to boost the business capacity of small-scale agricultural service providers and the productivity of smallholder farmers.
“This is an important moment to accelerate local and regional food production and to strengthen the resilience of Africa’s agricultural sector,” said Samuel Dzotefe, IFC’s Manager for Agribusiness and Forestry in Africa.
IFC will provide capacity building under its Agribusiness Leadership Program to help smallholder famers, farmer organizations and other actors along the supply chain to conduct sustainable farming practices, incorporate climate change risk mitigation and efficient use of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
The training will equip ETG personnel to continue the work beyond the life of the three-year program, helping to strengthen the outreach and impact of the program longer-term for farmers and farming organizations.
Still in pursuit to boost food security in the region, the international financial institution has provided a loan of up to US$200 million to Olam Agri, the food, feed, and fiber agribusiness subsidiary of Singapore-based Olam Group.
The loan will be used to finance the purchase of wheat, maize, and soy from Canada, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, and the United States for delivery to the company’s processing operations and customers in developing countries that rely heavily on imports of these staple foods.
These include Bangladesh, Cameroon, Chad, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Thailand, and Turkey.
The support will potentially feed over 40 million people at a time of heightened food insecurity around the world.