Sub-Saharan Africa: Public-Private Partnership to Improve Food Processing in Africa (September 2009)


On September 25, 2009, a public-private partnership with General Mills, a leading U.S. food company, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was announced at the closing of the Fifth Annual Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. This partnership will improve the capacity of small and medium- sized food businesses across sub-Saharan Africa to produce healthy, fortified food products.

The partnership will link the technical and business expertise of General Mills and up to nine additional food companies with up to 200 small and medium-sized mills and food processors in 15 sub-Saharan African countries. The partnership aims to improve the ability of these small and medium-sized enterprises to produce high-quality, nutritious and safe food at affordable prices. The partnership, which could potentially reach a value of $21 million, will also benefit an estimated 1.6 million smallholder farmers who supply these businesses.

A key component of the United States global Food Security initiative is to help countries link small farmers to local markets to increase family income and food security. By improving the manufacturing and business practices of these local firms, this partnership will strengthen that local market for small farmers and will enable the businesses to produce better quality food products at lower costs.

Through PEPFAR, America supports life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over two million people in Africa. For severely malnourished patients, PEPFAR programs may prescribe therapeutic and supplemental foods to ensure the effectiveness of treatment. Yet, many countries rely on expensive food imports. This partnership will source foods locally, stimulating the local economy, and promoting food security in areas heavily affected by HIV/AIDS.

"If PEPFAR HIV/AIDS programs and broader health and development efforts are going to be sustainable, they must be owned and led by partner countries," said Ambassador Eric Goosby, U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator. "This partnership with General Mills and USAID will support local food companies to help meet the nutritional needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, while bringing health benefits to the larger population through improved nutrition and broader economic development."

The long-term vision shared by General Mills and the U.S. Government is for the partnership is to engage multiple food companies and food industry-related associations to provide similar expertise to processors in Africa. The core expertise of food scientists, process engineers, and operations managers will have a transformative effect on the African agribusinesses, making the beneficiary firms' operations more efficient and expanding their potential markets and product offerings.

The U.S. Government will work across agencies addressing health and development to connect General Mills and other partner food companies to the beneficiary small and medium-sized enterprises on the ground. Over three years, the consortium of companies is expected to contribute up to 218,000 labor hours - worth up to $17 million. General Mills' total contribution is expected to be $5.4 million, comprised of cash and 65,000 labor hours. The U.S. Government commitment is initially expected to be $1.8 million, potentially ramping up to $4 million as more companies join the consortium.

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