Nestlé Partners AGRA To Create A Thriving African Agricultural Sector


There is no doubt that the impacts of climate change are beginning to manifest on the entire globe and particularly on developing countries that are relatively vulnerable.

Climate change, is an economic reality and a growing risk that businesses and investors are learning to address.

As global challenges, including climate change and inequality, increasingly
impact economies, the role of capital in helping to build a more sustainable
future is taking on ever-increasing urgency.

Meanwhile, available evidence shows that, sustainable finance can deliver both competitive financial returns and tremendous opportunities for business growth and innovation.

According to UNDP, unless mechanisms are carefully and systematically put in place to ensure resilience in development and reduce vulnerability, climate change and climate variability may pose serious challenges to national development. And governments, communities and individuals alike adapt measures to minimise the impacts of climate change.

News Ghana’s source indicates that, Climate change is manifested in Ghana through rising temperatures, declining rainfall totals and increased variability, rising sea levels and high incidence of weather extremes and disasters.

“Evidence abounds in Ghana that
temperatures in all the ecological zones
are rising, whereas rainfall levels and
patterns have been generally reducing
and increasingly becoming erratic. The
national economy stands to suffer from
the impacts of climate change because
it is dependent on climate sensitive-
sectors such as agriculture, energy,
forestry, etc. Based on a 20-year
baseline climate observation, it is
forecasted that maize and other cereal
crop yields will reduce by 7% by 2050.
Available data also shows a sea-level
rise of 2.1 mm per year over the last 30
years, indicating a rise of 5.8 cm, 16.5
cm and 34.5 cm by 2020, 2050 and
2080,” According to Agyemang-Bonsu et al., 2008.

On the backdrop of this, Nestlé Central and West Africa (CWA) and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), on Friday 7th June, 2019, launched a joint partnership agreement dubbed, “The Youth Agripreneurship Development Program (YADIS),” to catalyze the sustainable development of farmer livelihoods and youth opportunities in farming and agri-food businesses in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria.

The two and a half-year partnership agreement which was signed in Accra at the Labadi Beach Hotel, seeks to promote agricultural entrepreneurship for African youth. The LOI of the partnership was signed by Philomena Tan, Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana, on behalf of Nestlé Ghana Limited and Vanessa Adam, Vice President of AGRA on behalf of AGRA.

According to the agreement, the program will benefit a total of 2,000 young agripreneurs and smallholder farmers, particularly women, in the three countries with training on good agricultural practices and entrepreneurial skills to produce and supply high quality maize, soybean, rice, cassava, cocoa and coffee, to support the mitigation of climate risks.

Project interventions include input and output aggregation; training in improved production and post-harvest management practices accompanied by services such as mechanization services and crop insurance.

In her remarks, the Managing Director of Nestlé Ghana, Philomena Tan, Nestlé‘s global 2030 ambition to contribute to improving 30 million livelihoods in communities directly connected to its business activities.

Explaining that, in Ghana, the program will be implemented with a Ghanaian agribusiness, Sahel Grains targeting 300 young agripreneurs with specialized capacity building and mentoring, who will in turn serve another 49,500 farmers in Northern Ghana. Focused on the maize value chain, this program will increase incomes of the targeted youth agripreneurs and farmers, fifty percent of whom will be female.

She emphasized that, over the years, Nestlé has demonstrated its commitment to help develop resilient communities with local sourcing of raw materials like cocoa, coffee, cereals and cassava.

Adding that, “In 2018, over 216,000MT of raw materials worth 115 Million USD were sourced locally. This program will complement our efforts to foster robust partnerships along the maize value chain, which will contribute to improved food security and agricultural incomes, thereby enhancing rural development and livelihoods in Africa.”

The program, she said, seeks to transform agriculture into a job creating sector to attract young people as the average age of farmers is above 50 years and the migration rate of the youth to the cities continues to soar.

Complementing to the purpose of the program by enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future, Nestlé on its part will provide technical support
to improve the quality of grains and strengthen services offered to farmers in upgrading the maize supply chain.

Nestlé, will also provide a reliable premium market offtake of the maize by Sahel Grains. It has also committed to purchase 1,500 MT of Maize and 2,500 MT of Cassava from the youth agripreneurs who will deliver the acceptable quality produce.

Nestlé CWA, through its Global Youth Initiative ‘Nestlé needs YOUth’, will provide in-kind strategic investments as well as skills and knowledge transfer on agricultural knowhow particularly on crop quality and postharvest losses.

On her part, Vanessa Adams, Vice President of AGRA, indicated that, the partnership will go a long way to empower a new generation of agripreneurs by building the entrepreneurial skills of the youth to profitably engage in on and off farm activities enabling them to provide last mile agricultural services to smallholder farmers in a commercially viable manner.

She also intimated that, the partnership will encourage, strengthen extension services, increase technology adoption, improve supply chain management and promote agricultural entrepreneurship and the use of structured markets at large.

She noted that, AGRA’s contribution to the initiative will be part of the Partnership for Inclusive agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) with the Ghana component funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

AGRA will as well leverage its learning across the continent to support the design of activities and the development of technical packages of best practices.

She also disclosed that, the project will be implemented in close collaboration with Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture especially in the build up to the annual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) that will be held in Ghana, on 3rd – 6th September, 2019, focusing on digitalization of agriculture.

The partnership will specifically target 1,000 agripreneurs in Ghana and Nigeria who are growing maize, soybean, and cassava. The remaining 1,000 will be young farmers who are growing cocoa and/or coffee inter-cropping with food crops in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

The project interventions will include input and output aggregation and training in improved production and post-harvest management practices accompanied by services such as mechanization and crop insurance.

Launching the program, Dr. Solomon Gyan-Ansah, deputy director for crop services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, who represented the sector Minister, said, seized the opportunity to commend all the partners involved in the initiative for this practical steps taken to draw the partnership.

He also acknowledged the development partners of the initiative, in particular, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, UKAID, and the USAID, for their technical and financial support.

“On behalf of the government of Ghana, I urge you as agripreneurs and farmers to welcome this initiative and maximize the knowledge and other forms of support that will be provided by this program in the North,” He stated.

Dr. Gyan-Ansah, further indicated that, for sure, it took a significant staff time to build such a partnership, thereby, encouraging them that, what ever changes befalls them as they strive to achieve these successes, the Ministry’s door are opened for further discussions and collaboration.

The founder and CEO of Sahel Grains Ltd, Mr. Kwame Boateng, in an exclusive interview with News Ghana, expatiated that, over the past three years in partnership with the USAID Ghana Mission on Improving the Productivity and Income of Maize Farmers in the SADA Zone, he had the opportunity to test out a comprehensive integrated value chain approach, and the results, though provisional, was encouraging.

He disclosed that, “In partnership with the USAID/Ghana, Sahel Grains, a wholly Ghanaian company has trained more than five thousand farmers in good agronomic practices and provided the full suite of upstream on-field mechanized services to many of them.

The farmers have increased their farm sizes by 25.2%; we have improved gender access to mechanization by having tractors solely dedicated to women farmers; yields and incomes of the farmers have increased by 3.3% and 12.4% respectively. To make these gains enduring and sustainable, we have learned that it helps to provide market access with firm demand backstops linked to quality.”

Maize is familiar to all Ghanaians, but what is not nearly as familiar is that, the maize in our open market does not meet the health and safety standards set by our accredited regulatory agencies.

Aflatoxin is a substance present in maize that promotes the formation of cancer cells. It is so toxic that roasting maize at 180 degrees Celsius is unable to totally eliminate it. It is the most persistent grain quality problem in our country.

“We have worked with our partner farmers on appropriate practices to reduce the incidence of aflatoxin, and have additionally invested in very modern primary processing equipment to further sort and clean the maize to meet the highest quality standards anywhere in the world. Because market access requires storage, the USAID-Sahel Grains partnership is putting up one of the largest grain silo installations in the country,” Mr. Boateng further disclosed.

He said, USAID/Ghana Mission Director visiting Sahel Grains at The results of their grain quality program has been so spectacular that it meets the highest and most stringent aflatoxin parameters in the world. Thus, the European standard.

Nestlé, an European company, he said, also uses this stringent standard in all its grain-based products, and they are happy to count them as a customer of their maize.

Adding that, “By working together and adopting a comprehensive value chain approach, we have reduced the need for Nestlé to import maize and substituted that with our own locally produced maize. Because we want the health benefits of aflatoxin-free maize to reach as many Ghanaians as possible, we are using this same high quality maize to produce our local traditional fermented corn dough that is used in the preparation of koko and banku.

In addition to the benefits of the aflatoxin-free maize, we have included additional health benefits in using treated water for all aspects of our milling operation and using food-grade attrition plates to reduce the incidence of broken metal particles in our food.”

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