ôTwo new applicants have been awarded grants under the Agriculture Fast Track Fund,” the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced on 18 October 2013. This coincides with the celebration of the 2013 World Food Day.
According to Chiji Ojukwu, Director, Agriculture and Agro-Industry, “these awards are a demonstration of the extent to which African countries and their development partners are willing to go to propel the African agriculture transformation through enhanced development of agribusinesses in a manner that is more consistent with how business and investors really work.”
The Agriculture Fast Track Fund (AFT) is a multilateral fund supported by USAID, the Swedish Agency for International Development (Sida) and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida). Its aim is to enhance food security by assisting Africa’s agricultural sector to “transform innovative ideas into bankable investments”. Administered by the African Development Bank, the AFT funds the sponsors of public and private sector agriculture infrastructure investment projects to undertake the project preparation studies and analysis necessary to attract investment. The current donors’ pledges amount to US$ 26.8 million.
The two new grantees—the National Federation of Food Production Cooperatives (FENACOVICI) of Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania-based Darsh Industries, a tomato processing company—have met all of the AFT grant requirements. They will now work with the AfDB to finalize the paper work that will lead to the release of the resources.
FENACOVICI is a national professional body of 11 food and agricultural cooperatives. The Federation plans to increase its members’ food production through investments in drip irrigation system and improve the marketing of this output with new fresh produce handing and food processing facilities. It will receive a grant of US$ 552,000 to cover the initial preparation.
Darsh Industries is planning to set up a new tomato processing plant in Iringa, Tanzania with a daily processing capacity of 150 MT. The factory will purchase tomatoes from local farmers, who often struggle to access markets. In the past, lack of markets resulted in spoilage and market gluts that in turn led to depressed prices. Darsh Industries will also offer extension services to farmers. The grant award of US$221,000 will enable the company finalize the preparatory work including a feasibility study and Environmental Impact Assessment.
These two new grants follow on the successful completion of AFT’s first grants made to Bobo Dioulasso-based Fruiteq SA of Burkina Faso and Eden Tree Limited of Accra in May 2013, which are now fielding investors.
The AFT will open a new call for applications for grants in early November, through its website.