The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Wednesday, announced two significant partnerships and $48 million in grants to help hundreds of thousands of small cocoa and cashew farmers in sub-Saharan Africa significantly increase their incomes so they can lift themselves out of hunger and poverty.
The two grants - $23 million to the World Cocoa Foundation and $25 million to the German development organization, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH - were awarded in conjunction with $42 million in cash and in-kind contributions from private industry, a statement from the Foundation received in Accra said.
The five-year project would reach approximately 200,000 smallholder cocoa farming households in Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, and Nigeria and aims to help farmers double their incomes by 2013.
The project would complement the broader work of the World Cocoa Foundation, which works in partnership with its industry members, to ensure cocoa cultivation is sustainable and delivers greater benefits to the farmers who grow it.
Cocoa and cashew provide income for millions of small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, who, like a majority of the world's poorest people, live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their food and income.
The statement said these projects would help farmers improve the quality and quantity of their crops and provide them with reliable opportunities to sell their crops so they could build better lives for themselves and their families.
It said the grants were part of the Foundation's Agricultural Development initiative, which was working with a wide range of partners in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia to strengthen the entire agricultural value chain - from seeds and soil to farm management and market access - so that progress against hunger and poverty was sustainable over the long term.
“The grants complement financial support and in-kind contributions from the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and local governments. Farmer associations will also play a significant role in leading training and knowledge sharing,” it said.
Dr. Rajiv Shah, Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: “Making real progress against global hunger and poverty starts with small farmers”
He added: “Creative partnerships like these bring together the knowledge of locally based NGOs and governments with the technical know-how and market expertise of private-sector firms, and have the potential to help millions of farmers boost their yields and incomes they can improve their lives.”
Cocoa is West Africa's largest agricultural export, accounting for 70 per cent of the world's supply, mainly from Ghana and Cote I'Ivoire.
About two million West African smallholder farming households rely on cocoa production for a significant portion of their income.
Administered by the World Cocoa Foundation, the cocoa project will be implemented by a number of NGOs and other partners, including GTZ, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)/Sustainable Tree Crops Program and TechnoServe.
The statement said the cocoa project was aimed at increasing farming household incomes through improved farmer knowledge and productivity, better cocoa quality, crop diversification, and improved supply chain efficiencies.
Financial and in-kind contributions for the cocoa project come from major branded manufacturers - The Hershey Company, Kraft Foods, and Mars, Incorporated; cocoa processors Archer Daniels Midland Company, Barry Callebaut, Blommer Chocolate Company, and Cargill; and supply chain managers and allied industries Armajaro, Ecom-Agrocacao, Olam International Ltd. and Starbucks Coffee Company.
“Cocoa has the potential to deliver significant improvements in income as well as in family and community well-being across rural West and Central Africa,” said Bill Guyton, president of the World Cocoa Foundation.
He added: “Delivering on this promise, however, requires sustained and innovative investment in educating farmers, diversifying the crops they grow, improving their marketing efficiency, and the involvement of companies working together. This new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation represents a major step forward in these areas, opening the door to a much brighter future for hundreds of thousands of farm families in the region.”
Africa is responsible for about one-third of the world's cashew crop. However, a lack of cashew processing facilities in Africa has created major market inefficiencies and denies Africans the economic benefits that accompany jobs in the cashew processing sector.
The cashew project aims to improve the quality of raw cashew nut cultivation, increase farmer productivity, improve linkages between smallholder farmers and the marketplace, build African processing capacity, and promote a sustainable global market for African cashews.
The project's goal is to help 150,000 smallholder cashew farming households in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Mozambique increase their incomes by 50 percent by 2012.
“This project will help develop strong groups of cashew farmers that, with the help of the private sector, can be linked to factories,” said Winfred Osei Owusu, CEO, West Africa Markets Link in Ghana. “This will create local jobs and bring additional income to the people in our country who need it the most.”
GTZ will lead the cashew project with assistance from the African Cashew Alliance (ACA), FairMatch Support, and TechnoServe.
Financial support, in-kind contributions, and other support for the cashew project come from supply chain managers and processors Global Trading Agency BV (GTA) and Olam International Ltd.; branded manufacturers Intersnack Group GmbH & Co. KG and Kraft Foods; retailer Costco Wholesale Corporation; equipment manufacturer Oltremare; and other contributors, the German investment and development company DEG - Deutsche Investitions- und Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH, and the United States Agency for International Development.