MALAWI – The OPEC Fund for International Development (the OPEC Fund) has signed a US$20 million development loan agreement with Malawi to improve the livelihoods of around 1.3 million people living in rural areas.

The financing will support the ‘Transforming Agriculture through Diversification and Entrepreneurship’ program, aligning with Sustainable Development Goal 2 on food security, improved nutrition, and sustainable agriculture.

The objective of the program is to strengthen value chains and improve the resilience and capacity of Malawi’s smallholder farmers and rural organizations.

The program will provide better infrastructure, including new roads and access to rural financial solutions, as well as enhanced partnerships with the private sector and inclusive business development services.

Climate smart interventions will help combat land degradation and improve agricultural productivity.

The program supports Malawi’s National Agriculture Policy (NAP), which intends to achieve sustainable agricultural transformation to drive growth in the agricultural sector, expanding incomes for farm households, improving food and nutrition security for all Malawians, and boosting agricultural exports.

The OPEC Fund is co-financing the program with the International Fund for Agricultural Development as well as private sector enterprises, beneficiaries, and the government of Malawi.

To date, the OPEC Fund has approved 22 loans in Malawi for a total of more than US$207 million.

Meanwhile in Morocco, state-owned phosphate and fertilizer group OCP and China’s Hubei Forbon Technology have established a joint venture in research and development, with an eye on new generations of fertilizer solutions and “smart agriculture.”

The joint venture will be headquartered in the East Lake New Technology Development Zone in Wuhan, China.

The agreement will grant the venture access to the Chinese innovation ecosystem, one of the “most dynamic in terms of R&D in agriculture,” announced a joint statement from OCP and Hubei Forbon Technology.

Under the agreement, OCP and Forbon seek to establish a global cooperation to develop new generations of fertilizer and digital solutions for agriculture.

The statement added that the partnership will benefit from an ecosystem of innovation of the Biolake Park in Optic Valley to explore sustainable agricultural solutions. The collaboration seeks to provide farmers with customized solutions and digital services.

Soufiyane El Kassi, Chief Growth Officer of OCP, said that the Moroccan company has “put innovation as a cornerstone of its growth strategy as illustrated by the ecosystem approach, we have built together with the UM6P (Mohammed VI Polytechnic University).”

El Kassi also expressed his satisfaction with the choice of Wuhan as the headquarters of the joint venture. He described the Chinese region as a hotbed of innovation and creativity.

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