Ivorian, Tanzanian firms win grants from Agriculture Fast Track Fund

Two firms – the National Federation of Food Production Cooperatives (FENACOVICI) of Côte d’Ivoire and Tanzania-based Darsh Industries, a tomato processing company – have been awarded grants under the Agriculture Fast Track Fund (AFT),” the African Development Bank (AfDB) announced here Friday.

It said that the award coincided with the celebration of the 2013 World Food Day.

According to Chiji Ojukwu, the bank’s 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.”

He said that the two new beneficiaries met all of the AFT grant requirements and will now work with the AfDB to finalize the paper work that will lead to the release of the resources.

FENACOVICI is a national apex organization of 11 food and agricultural cooperatives, planning to increase its members’ food production through investments in drip irrigation system and improve the marketing of this output with new fresh produce handling 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 Metric Tonnes. The factory will purchase tomatoes from local farmers, who often struggle to access markets.

In the past, the lack of markets resulted in wastage and market gluts that in turn led to depressed prices. Darsh Industries will also offer extension services to farmers.

Its grant award of US$ 221,000 will enable the company finalize the preparatory work, including a feasibility study and Environmental Impact Assessment.

The 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 AfDB, the AFT funds 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 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, Ghana, in May 2013, which are now fielding investors.

The AFT will invited new applications for grants in early November, through its website.

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