Releaf startup set to expand into more crops, additional West African markets

NIGERIA – Releaf, a raw material procurement & logistics startup, which develops proprietary hardware and software solutions to drive the industrialisation of food processing in Africa, is planning to expand into more crops and additional West African markets after closing its seed round earlier this year. Releaf was founded in 2017 and took part in the Y Combinator accelerator programme in Silicon Valley the same year, but only started operations in the oil palm space in 2019 and deployed its proprietary technology in January of this year. “Our hardware increases…

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OPEC Fund signs US$30m loan to enhance productivity for smallholder farmers in Uganda

UGANDA – The OPEC Fund for International Development signed a US$30 million loan agreement with Uganda to help improve food security and incomes for more than 120,000 smallholder households in the northern and north-eastern regions engaged in the production and marketing of oil seeds (groundnuts, sunflower, sesame and soy). The National Oil Seeds Project is co-financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Ugandan government. The Ugandan government’s latest Agricultural Sector Strategic Plan highlights oil seeds as part of the four strategic commodities expected to lead the…

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TADB to support Tanzania’s soybean value-chain with financial backing from Clinton Development Initiative

TANZANIA – Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB), has entered into a strategic partnership with the Clinton Development Initiative (CDI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, that will allow the agri-bank to disburse up-to US$500,000 (TZS 1.15 billion) to unlock the soybean value-chain in Iringa Region, Tanzania. According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the two parties, the partnership aims at enhancing financial accessibility to 29 Agriculture Marketing Cooperatives (AMCOs). The cooperatives will in turn impact 2,900 CDI supported farmers engaged in the production and marketing of soybeans, for…

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Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund raises US$58m to boost climate change resilience of African small-holder farmers

AFRICA – The Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF), an equity fund that supports African agri-businesses that assist smallholder farmers adapt to climate change, has raised US$58 million. The fund is supported by the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank (FMO), the Soros Economic Development Fund, the French development institution PROPARCO (through FISEA+, the AFD Fund advised by PROPARCO), the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, IKEA Foundation, Global Social Impact, and other respected investors and funders. It is sponsored by Acumen, managed by its wholly owned subsidiary Acumen Capital Partners, and anchored by Green…

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FMO, Rabobank contribute to IDH Farmfit Fund’s US$118.7m supporting small-scale farmers in Africa

AFRICA – IDH Farmfit Fund, the catalysing smallholder finance facility of IDH has received financial support from the Dutch development bank FMO and Rabobank, each investing €10 million (US$11.8m). The IDH Farmfit Fund, with backing from public and private organizations makes it possible to provide financing for small-scale farmers in developing countries. By covering any initial losses on loans, the fund allows banks to provide financing for this sector with ease, acting as a bridge between small-scale farms and financial services. It also invests in innovative companies that develop solutions…

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UK dishes out US$21m funding to Kenya for establishment of digital trade corridor

KENYA – Kenyan horticultural producers are set to access the British market more efficiently and cheaply, following the set-up of a digital customs system in the East African economy. During the recent visit to the UK by the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenyan-based non-profit making organisation TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), and the UK-based Institute of Export and International Trade ((IOE&IT), signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) providing a framework for collaboration in the implementation of a digital trade corridor between the two nations. To be delivered by TMEA and…

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Tropical weather forecasting company Ignitia closes US$ 4.2m financing round to fuel expansion

WEST AFRICA – Agtech company, Ignitia has closed a US$ 4.2m financing round led by Novastar Ventures with participation from IKEA Social Entrepreneurship, Future Foodways, Mercy Corps, Norrsken and Finca International. The funding will enable the company to extend its Sub-Saharan Africa footprint to new markets. It also represents another stepping-stone towards its 2030 mission to reach 200 million farmers. Ignitia, headquatered in Sweden, was founded in 2010 by three scientists from renowned research institutions such as NASA, who joined forces to address the seemingly impossible task of producing reliable…

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Philippines to fight hidden hunger with recently approved “Golden Rice” variety

PHILIPPINES – Filipino authorities have greenlighted the planting of “Golden Rice”; a new, nutrient enriched rice variety developed by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Rice Research Institute (DA-PhilRice) in partnership with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).  Golden Rice was first conceived by Professors Ingo Potrykus and Peter Beyer in the late 1980s. IRRI became the first licensee of the scientists’ work in 2001.  The rice variety adds an important nutrient to a staple food that is already consumed in volumes of almost 120kg per capita per year.  Following the approval, Filipino farmers will become the first in…

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Ethiopia receives US$47m grant from AfDB to support establishment of Agro Industrial Parks

ETHIOPIA – The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the Government of Ethiopia have signed a grant agreement worth US$47 million, to be channelled towards the Productivity Enhancement to Support Agro Industrial Parks and Youth Employment Projects. According to the development organization, the industrial parks and youth project will see the establishment of irrigation and water management infrastructure around the Integrated Agro-Industrial Parks. This is aimed to offer opportunities for graduate “agri-preneurs” to establish agro-related, commercially viable businesses. Valued at US$102 million, the venture is being co-financed with the Arab…

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South Africa to remain net exporter of corn despite decline in production

SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa is expected to register its second largest corn crop output in history in the Marketing Year 2020/21, reaching 16.8 million tons. The bumper out-put is set to put downward pressure on local corn prices, which will influence producers’ decisions on the area to be planted with corn later in 2021, for the 2021/22 MY. Hence, a GAIN report by USDA, forecasts a nine percent drop in the commercial corn area to 2.5 million hectares, resulting in corn production of 15.0 million tons, which is 11…

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