IFC to train Rwanda, Tanzania smallholders

Together with other DFIs, the World Bank affiliate will provide training to farmers in the east African nations as part of an effort to strengthen connections with local and international produce markets.

On Tuesday, the International Finance Corporation announced the launch of a collaboration with the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program and World Food Program designed to improve food security and market access in Rwanda and Tanzania.

The program will see the development finance institutions work together with KCB Bank Rwanda and CRDB Bank in Tanzania as part of the Farm to Market Alliance, an initiative launched last year to connect smallholder farmers with local and international demand for produce.

The contributions of IFC and GAFSP will come in the form of capacity-building activities designed to train smallholder farmers in financial management, agronomy and input use.

“Smallholder farmers produce most of the world’s food, but they form the majority of people living in poverty and they often have food security challenges themselves,” WFP executive director David Beasley said in a statement. “We want to help them get better access to markets so they build more demand for their products, thus making a long-term impact on the economic future for them and their families.”

Recent months have shown Rwanda and Tanzania to be on the radar of both private investors and DFIs focused on agriculture.

In March, a separate arm of the World Bank provided a $46 million loan to the government of Rwanda to increase productivity in agriculture and livestock and support efforts to develop a new agricultural policy for the country. Rwanda was also among the countries hosting investments from pan-African private equity firm EXEO Capital’s Agri-Vie Fund I, which closed on $100 million in 2008.

EXEO co-founder Herman Marais told Agri Investor in March that an increased focus on east Africa would be part of the strategy for the firm’s second vehicle, which has a hard-cap of $200 million and reached a first close on $100 million in February.

Earlier this month, the founders of impact investing firm Victus Global Capital told Agri Investor that Tanzania was one of four target countries for its debut vehicle and late last year, DOB Equity’s investment in Countryside Dairy of Kenya was made with plans to expand in Tanzania.