AFRICA – Yara International, a crop nutrition and digital farming solutions provider has launched a US$25 million initiative, Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future initiative, aimed to mobilize support for 250,000 smallholder farmers in Southern and Eastern Africa, to secure food production and improve food security.

The initiative is supported by the World Food Program (WFP), the Norwegian government, Africa Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and other regional and local organization.

It targets Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

The initiative includes advocacy and partnerships, farmer connectivity and digital solutions, and operational support including 40,000 metric tons of high quality fertilizers with zinc for improved nutrition.

Yara’s fertilizer contribution, combined with agronomic support, is expected to triple maize production and feed more than one million people in the targeted countries for one year.

Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future will include support for the African Green Revolution Forum (Africa Food Forum), Generation Africa and the Farm to Market Alliance.

“Vulnerable communities may face the most devastating food crisis in decades. If we don’t act now, millions of people will be pushed into deep poverty and hunger. This is especially worrying in Africa where lives and livelihoods are at risk,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara International.

“As a critical part of the food value chain, we have a responsibility to support vulnerable farming communities and help avert a hunger crisis,” he added.

According to David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), the COVID-19 health crisis threatens to become a global humanitarian catastrophe that could deal a fatal blow to communities already on the edge of survival.

“This initiative provides a good model for how the private sector and individual companies can step up, in partnership with African institutions, Governments and organizations like WFP, to help sustain production and food supply chains and safeguard the people most at risk during this pandemic,” he stated

Dag Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development, Norway, who is deeply concerned about the risk of hunger caused by the pandemic, highly welcomes the initiative and commitment by Yara as public-private collaboration will be vital in addressing a possible food crisis. 

“I am deeply concerned about the risk of a hunger pandemic caused by the corona virus with a further 265 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse. It is critical that we come together as one united global community to defeat this disease, and protect the most vulnerable,” he stated

Action Africa: Thriving Farms, Thriving Future will seek to, keep food available and affordable for the most vulnerable and keep SMEs going as they are the backbone of food systems in Africa.

In addition, it will get inputs to smallholders, keep food markets open and safe, keep knowledge flowing to farmers and digitize for traceability whenever possible.

Yara hopes that the initiative can be a catalyst for other private sector players to join in a coordinated effort to deliver better farm productivity, meet local food demand, improve farmer incomes and improve population health through better nutrition.