MALAWI – Partners in Food Solutions, comprised of a consortium of world-class food industry companies has collaborated with non-profit organization, TechnoServe and the U.S. Agency for International Development to introduce the Alliance for Inclusive and Nutritious Food Processing (AINFP) in Malawi.
The program, according to TechnoServe has a backing of US$1 million and is aimed to provide tailored technical advice, sector-wide training, and improved access to finance for Malawian food processing firms.
It is a three-year project aimed to help food processors to weather the COVID-19 crisis, improve the quality and safety of their products and expand their operations.
In addition, it is geared towards contributing to better diets and nutrition for base-of-the-pyramid consumers and generate additional economic opportunities for farmers and workers.
“The current crisis has shone a spotlight on the importance of food processors to food security and nutrition.
“We are excited to expand this innovative initiative to Malawi and work with stakeholders across the country to strengthen the food processing sector,” said Jonathan Thomas, Chief of Party for AINFP.
Food processors are vital for ensuring food security and adequate nutrition, and they also provide markets for local farmers and employment for workers.
In Malawi, however, the processing sector suffers due to limited technical and business capacity, inadequate access to financing, and poor linkages to both farmers and base-of-the-pyramid consumers.
As a result, it has struggled to consistently produce safe, high-quality foods that can compete with imported products.
The COVID-19 pandemic on the other hand has created additional challenges for the region’s food processing sector.
“We are excited to expand this innovative initiative to Malawi and work with stakeholders across the country to strengthen the food processing sector.”Chief of Party for AINFP – Jonathan Thomas
In a survey TechnoServe carried out in July, for example, 68% of food processing firms across Africa reported experiencing lower sales due to the pandemic.
Small and medium-sized food processors contribute more than US$115 million to the Malawian economy annually, mostly in the processing of cereals, cassava, potatoes and soy, indicates TechnoServe.
Launched in 2018, AINFP has provided technical assistance to 57 food processors and sector-wide training to 218 businesses in Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.
AINFP will provide individualized technical assistance to 36 firms, harnessing the expertise of TechnoServe staff and the employee volunteers from PFS’s member companies i.e. General Mills, Cargill, DSM, Bühler, Hershey, Ardent Mills, and The J.M. Smucker Company, to help solve the firms’ greatest technical and business challenges.
It will also provide sector-wide training on key themes to 400 participants and further facilitate at least US$300,000 of financing for Malawian food processors.
Partners in Food Solutions, one of the main actors in the project, recently announced the joining of American food and pet food manufacturer, J. M. Smucker Company to the consortium.
For over a decade, the organization has connected highly skilled volunteers from its corporate partners with entrepreneurial food companies in Africa to help strengthen their businesses.
Volunteers have contributed more than 100,000 pro-bono consulting hours and with the addition of Smucker, Partners in Food Solutions companies’ represent over 800 years of food industry knowledge and experience, stated the organization.
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