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Japan’s first African venture development fund launches Zambian JV

Toyota Tsusho invested $3m in a $10m deal with Amatheon Agri, a German agribusiness and food company that operates sustainable agricultural projects in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.

Toyota Tsusho Corp and the Amatheon Agri Group, a German agribusiness operating in sub-Saharan Africa, have collaborated to invest $10 million in a Zambian agriculture project.

Toyota Tsusho invested $3 million in the deal via Toyota Tsusho CSV Africa, Japan’s first venture development fund in Africa. The remainder was invested by Amatheon Agri, Agri Investor learned.

The joint venture highlights the increasing importance of the agricultural sector across the continent and will work on building a large-scale agri-project of 2,700 hectares of land for the cropping of maize, wheat and soya, according to a press release.

Carl Heinrich Bruhn, chief executive and founder of Amatheon Group, said in a statement that the project represents both companies’ shared understanding of responsible and profitable investment in the growing agricultural sector of Southern Africa.

The project is part of the ongoing development of Amatheon’s 40,000 hectares titled farm block and the Amatheon Agri will act as the majority stakeholder and operating partner of the company.

As part of its sustainable development objectives, the joint venture will engage in the support of local smallholder farmers by providing them with training and access to market, Bruhn noted about the partnership.

Plans to implement a large-scale irrigation project have been approved by the Zambian Environmental Management Agency and the operational phase of the project starts immediately.

Amatheon Agri operates sustainable agricultural projects in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Uganda. The firm also invests in the food processing sector.

Bruhn’s trip to Zambia in 2011 inspired him to establish the Amatheon Foundation in 2013 with the goal to tackle key issues that act as bottlenecks for growth in rural areas, according to its website. The foundation partners with local organisations.

An international trading company stemming from the Toyota Group, Toyota Tsusho is already active in 53 countries in Africa. CSV Africa had ¥2.3 billion ($18 million; €16million) in capital at its inception.