Whether for profit or social motives - and often both - an increasing number of investors are targeting opportunities in African agriculture. At the same time innovative approaches for deploying aid to support farming businesses linked to smallholders are emerging. This blog provides a snapshot of who is doing what, where and how.

29 January 2010

Calls for DfID to increase agriculture spending to 10%

Why no thought for food? Report criticises the Department for International Development for neglecting agriculture and recommends it doubles its current aid budget in this area.

The report, Why no thought for food?, published yesterday by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agriculture and Food for Development, criticises DfID for its years of neglect of agriculture and recommends it doubles its current aid commitments for food security and sustainable agriculture to 10%.

26 January 2010

Beira Agriculture Growth Corridor - Delivering the Potential

In a major new report Beira Agriculture Growth Corridor - Delivering the Potential, InfraCo shows how the Beira corridor region of south eastern Africa can become a world class agricultural producer, eliminating food imports.

The report launched on Wednesday 27 January at the World Economic Forum in Davos identifies 190,000 hectares in Mozambique as having the potential to generate revenues for farmers of more than US$1 billion per year. But lack of irrigation, grid-connected electricity and all-weather feeder roads make this impossible.

Patient capital is needed to unlock the potential. It is used to finance " agriculture-supporting " infrastructure, especially irrigation, and make it available to farmers at affordable cost. The result: vastly improved yields, lower costs and the ability for farmers to compete in domestic, regional and global markets. More informtion on BAGC website

Gulf firm seeks long-term lease on Tanzanian farmland

A UNITED Arab Emirates (UAE) company is seeking a 98-year lease on vast tracts of farmland in Tanzania to grow rice in order to secure food supplies for the Gulf countries.

Pharos Miro Agriculture Fund, which was launched in November last year, plans to lay hands on 50,000 hectares of prime land in Tanzania this year.

According to media reports from the Gulf, the private sector fund is to invest $350m in farmland across Africa and Europe. This Day article.

22 January 2010

Stretching from Mozambique into Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, the Beira agricultural corridor should bring a breadbasket its route to market. Viable projects that bring together private and donor funds to catalyse infrastructure investment are vital to scale up Africa’s agricultural potential, says Sean de Cleene of Yara International.

"On the Beira corridor, we have been working with the government of Mozambique, InfraCo, Technoserve, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Transfarm, the World Bank and the African Development Bank, amongst others, to draw up an initial corridor investment blueprint. This spells out infrastructure and agriculture investment opportunities, with concrete proposals for how they could be financed". Africa Report article.

One quarter of US grain crops fed to cars - not people

One-quarter of all the maize and other grain crops grown in the US now ends up as biofuel in cars rather than being used to feed people, according to new analysis which suggests that the biofuel revolution launched by former President George Bush in 2007 is impacting on world food supplies. Guardian article.

African fruit farmers get funding from big business

Coca Cola has entered a partnership with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and TechnoServe, a non -profit organisation, to provide $11.5 million in aid to 50,000 farmers. The aim is to improve their productivity and double their incomes by 2014.

TechnoServe has partnered with Cargill, Kraft, Nestle and Unilever, and has helped expand businesses in over 30 countries. The implementation of this partnership will build on a track record of similar schemes underway across Africa including banana, cashews, cocoa and coffee. The Gates Foundation has committed more than $1.4 billion to agriculture projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Africa. International Supermarket news article.

17 January 2010

China gives Tanzania $180m in loans

China gave Tanzania $180 million in concessional loans on Friday as part of its pledge to provide $10 billion in low-cost lending to Africa over the next three years, Tanzanian Finance Minister Mustafa Mkulo said on Saturday.

Mkulo said the loans would fund various development projects in infrastructure and information, communication and technology. He said Tanzania was also in talks with Beijing for additional loans in agriculture, railway infrastructure, transportation and for the upgrade and rehabilitation of Dar es Salaam's underperforming port. Reuters link