Unilever, Farm to Market Alliance partner to promote consumption of diversified local foods

KENYA – Farm to Market Alliance and Unilever are joining forces to find ways for African consumers to access affordable, locally made, food brands like Knorr and Royco produced from indigenous, nutritious and climate resilient crops, supplied by local smallholder farmers. 

This new partnership will bring together the Farm to Market Alliance’s Farmer Service Centre model and Unilever’s consumer experience to explore ways for African smallholders to grow ‘Future 50 Foods’ as part of the World Economic Forum’s multi-stakeholder Food Innovation Hubs initiative.

This is part of the parties’ commitment to help tackle the unacceptably high levels of hunger and malnutrition on the continent by creating a more sustainable African food system.

Unilever believes that through collaboration people can be helped to transition towards healthier diets, while reducing the environmental impact of the global food chain.

The giant food company will bring its expertise and networks to find ways to stimulate off take of these ‘Future 50 Foods’ and bring these ingredients to tasty and nutritious food products.

“It is Unilever’s ambition to grow the availability and accessibility of nutritious ‘Future 50 Foods’ across Africa at scale, with viable business models for both farmers and producers.

“We are inviting more partners to join our efforts across the value chain to make a real difference,” said Hanneke Faber, President Foods & Refreshment, Unilever.

The list of Future 50 Foods, consisting of vegetables, grains, cereals, seeds, legumes and nuts from across the globe, has been developed to inspire greater variety in what people cook and eat.

It is intended to enable three important dietary shifts i.e., boost intake of a greater variety of vegetables rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants; increase consumption of plant-based sources of protein to replace meat, poultry and fish, resulting in reduced negative impact on the environment; and promote agrobiodiversity.

Developing more sustainable, locally produced nutritional food products that African consumers can afford, while ensuring a decent income for smallholder farmers will be key to success.

The first project will focus on finger millet in Kenya which grows in conditions where crops such as maize, wheat and rice don’t prosper as well.

Finger millet is also a good source of fiber, vitamin b1 and essential minerals supporting consumer health.

“Unilever’s bold new commitment to local sourcing of highly nutritious and climate appropriate foods creates a game-changing opportunity for low-income smallholders, who the Farm to Market Alliance is well positioned to empower and benefit from in response” said Simon Winter, Chair of the Farm to Market Alliance

The Farm to Market Alliance’s mission is to develop a sustainable, inclusive, and profitable agricultural sector in Africa.

For too long, smallholder farmers in Africa have been subject to a range of barriers preventing them from successfully transitioning to commercial farming.

To address this, the FtMA takes a demand-led approach in servicing smallholder farmers, ensuring they have the technologies, skills, and finance they need, while strengthening the surrounding ecosystem, thus providing a holistic value chain solution.

FtMA is a consortium led by six organizations, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Bayer, Rabobank, Syngenta, World Food Program (WFP), and Yara.

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