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Syngenta, USAID partner again on food security

The Swiss agrochemicals company and the development agency have renewed their commitment to work together towards developing agriculture in Africa, Asia and Latin America, renewing a partnership that began in 2013.

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The Swiss agrochemicals company and the development agency have renewed their commitment to work together toward developing agriculture in Africa, Asia and Latin America, renewing a partnership that began in 2013.

Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta has once again partnered with the US Agency for International Development to support agricultural development and food security activities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

“Syngenta will play the role of a strategic technology partner wherever possible to support initiatives that are funded or supported by USAID,” Angus Kelly, Syngenta’s head of corporate affairs for Africa and the Middle East, told Agri Investor.

A key focus of the partnership is to improve research and development, promote technology adoption – such as using advanced digital and satellite technology to enhance pest monitoring – and transfer know-how so that smallholder farmers can boost productivity. It will also help farmers tackle new challenges such as the fall armyworm pest that has been spreading across much of sub-Saharan Africa since late 2016. According to the Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International, the pest has officially been identified in 11 countries and suspected to be present in at least 14 others.

“Upskilling farmers with agronomic expertise and modern agricultural tools, as well as on the safe and effective use of crop protection products is an integral part of our partnership projects,” Kelly explained. “For example, we train community agro dealers in Zambia in partnership with USAID to guarantee last-mile access to technology for smallholders.”

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Asked whether Syngenta will also provide financial support within the framework of the USAID partnership, the company’s spokesman replied that it “may also be part of the collaboration.” He added: “Syngenta, USAID and other partners often co-invest in projects to spread the risk and integrate the value chain.”

The Swiss company announced an ambitious 10-year growth plan for its Africa business in 2012, pledging to invest more than $500 million in Africa over the following decade. The continent, as well as the Middle East, are growth territories in Syngenta’s view and the company is investing accordingly, Kelly said.

Syngenta and USAID originally started collaborating in 2013, under the “Feed the Future” program, an initiative launched by the Obama administration in 2010 to combat global hunger and poverty.

According to USAID, the program has unlocked nearly $2.7 billion in agricultural loans and leveraged more than $800 million in private sector capital investments for farmers in target countries since 2011.

In addition, “nine million more people are living above the poverty line and 1.8 million more children have escaped the devastating, lifelong consequences of poor nutrition early in life in areas where Feed the Future has invested,” USAID said.