CÔTE D’IVOIRE – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) has partnered with OCP Africa to support 20,000 rice farmers in Côte d’Ivoire’s agriculture value chain, to boost local agricultural production, minimize exposure to imports and advance food security in the country.

The initiative will be undertaken trough OCP Africa’s Agribooster Program with participation from the Arab Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program, a multi-partner program led by ITFC.

The agreement was signed by Dr. Mohamed Anouar Jamali, Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa, a subsidiary of OCP Group, and Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, Chief Executive Officer, ITFC, in Rabat, Morocco.

“ITFC’s grant for the OCP Africa Agribooster program in Côte d’Ivoire aims to mitigate the economic impacts of COVID-19 and help boost global food supply chains whilst enhancing agricultural value chains in the country especially under these difficult circumstances.

“This grant will also cover the training of trainers to strengthen their capabilities through innovative training and digitalized technical assistance to ensure the sustainability of the program for future generations of farmers,” said Eng. Hani.

The program aims to serves as an end-to-end value chain solution, that brings together all the conditions necessary for improving rice productivity and small farmers revenues.

“Covid-19 has exposed the limits of our current production models. The repercussions of the pandemic on food security call for new holistic models to produce enough food in Africa.

Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol – Chief Executive Officer, ITFC

This includes the provision of high-quality fertilizers and hybrid seeds, training on good agricultural practices and soil fertility, as well as market linkages.

It will also safeguard the health of the country’s farmers in the wake of COVID-19 through the provision of personal protective equipment to smallholder farms.

“Covid-19 has exposed the limits of our current production models. The repercussions of the pandemic on food security call for new holistic models to produce enough food in Africa.

“The Agribooster program is a good example of an initiative designed to support African food systems to become more resilient, and we are glad to have ITFC as a strong partner in Côte d’Ivoire,” Dr Mohamed added.

The program is dedicated to the sustainable development of agriculture, requires extensive training in good agricultural practices and regular monitoring throughout the year.

At the continent level, Agribooster has reached over 630,000 smallholder farmers across four countries (Ghana, Sénégal, Nigéria and Côte d’Ivoire), with an increase in their yield of up to 40% for leading farmers.

Malawi’s US$40m rice scheme in the offing

In Malawi, government organization Green Belt Authority (GBA) is developing a K31.2 billion (US$40m) rice production and processing scheme in Karonga, aimed to add value and satisfy local and international commodity demand.

The investment comprises of US$15 million for scheme development and US$25 million for the agro processing facility.

It will be developed over 1000 hectares (ha) of irrigable land for increased rice production, estimated at 5000 metric tonnes annually.

The project is expected to create around 300 permanent jobs and thousands of casual employments.

According to the project design, farmers are expected to form an association which will enter into partnership with GBA and create a joint venture company to manage the scheme, with a proposed shareholding of 49 percent for GBA and 51 percent for the farmers.

Rice production in Malawi, in terms of both area under production and yield per hectare of the crop has been fluctuating, not being able to meet demand resulting to Malawi depending on imports.

The country has 600 000 ha of land that can be used for rice production. If this area was fully utilised, the country could produce at least three million tonnes of rice per annum.

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