World’s leading food company, General Mills, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has pledged support to fight hunger in Africa through its non-profit arm – Partners in Food Solutions (PFS) by leveraging on the skills of employee volunteers who are eager to give back. This will allow it expand the reach of its technical and business expertise to small and medium sized food processors in sub-Saharan Africa.
The PFS, a consortium of General Mills, Cargill and DSM, is a non-profit organisation that links the technical and business expertise of volunteer employees from General Mills, Cargill and Royal DSM to small and medium-sized mills and food processors in the developing world.
The collective commitment will utilise more than 50,000 hours of expertise from employee volunteers from all three companies while sharing their technical and business knowledge with 250 food processors and millers throughout Eastern and Southern Africa.
Furthermore, the partnership will work to expand capital and market access to the processors. To sustain and scale these results across the sector, PFS will develop and share best practices in food processing with African organisations who will support further sector development after PFS support ends. By the end of the five-year effort, the partnership will have strengthened an entire industry.
General Mills CEO, Ken Powell, while addressing attendees at the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue in Des Moines, Iowa, yesterday, said; “We are hungry to help the entrepreneur in Tanzania who is trying to package her products and access new markets. We are hungry to help the food scientist in Zambia searching for solutions to retain food flavour and optimize nutrients. And we are hungry to help the farmer in Malawi who, by selling her crop, will generate the money needed to support her family and pay for her children to go to school.”
The Minnesota-based company’s CEO said that General Mills, a Fortune 500 company, is uniquely qualified to help Africa in a number of areas, such as food processing, but he believes all food companies will eventually be in Africa.
“Africa’s economy grew 5.7 percent in the last decade and is expected to grow 5.5 percent this year. The African continent is ripe with opportunity. “He however said, they are there today because they can help African processors, farmers and communities now.
Under this new agreement, Solutions to African Food Enterprises (SAFE), USAID and PFS will deepen their collaboration to improve African food security by bringing expertise, knowledge and resources to the continent’s food processing sector. PFS will provide more than $8 million in resources to the project, leveraging nearly $7 million in funding from USAID.
According to Powell, “This new support from USAID will move us closer to our goal of helping more than 200 Africa-based food processors, while training hundreds more. Hundreds of thousands of farmers will benefit, and thousands of tons of healthier local foods will reach millions of African consumers.”
The offering strengthens the public-private partnership formed in 2010 between USAID, the Office of the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, and General Mills.
PFS has worked with 40 food processors in Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania and Malawi, on over 120 projects sourcing from more than 100,000 smallholder farmers who support an estimated 600,000 family members. It plans to broaden this work in the next five years to include as many as 10 corporate partners, working with 200 Africa-based food processors, who purchase from more than 500,000 smallholder farmers in as many as 12 African nations.