Food processing is an important driver of jobs and incomes in many African countries and can also provide access to greater diversity of affordable, high quality and nutritious foods. By improving the capacity of local food processors across sub-Saharan Africa to produce and market healthy food products, while simultaneously improving smallholder farmers’ access to markets, food security for both producers and consumers can be strengthened.
The African Alliance for Improved Food Processing (AAIFP) is an innovative approach to build the capabilities of local food processors in Africa. Through knowledge and technology transfer, the aim is to build capacity to develop sustainable and competitive local processors within food sector value chains, to improve the supply of high-quality, nutritious food and to increase demand for the crops of small farmers who supply these businesses. This in turn spurs economic growth in rural areas that had little to no previous cash economy.
The Alliance is built upon a partnership with General Mills, one of the world’s leading food companies and their newly formed initiative, Partners in Food Solutions, and TechnoServe, and the initiative is funded by USAID.
Volunteer employees of General Mills, and in the future other global food companies, contribute their time and knowledge and with their support, TechnoServe provides on the ground technical and business capacity-building to food processors selling products in local and regional markets. These African processors buy raw materials from local farmers, create jobs and generate benefits for whole communities.
Since 2008, General Mills has been providing assistance to processors and two years later, in 2010, TechnoServe and General Mills joined forces to assist food processors in Tanzania. The partnership has identified potential further opportunities to extend their work to Kenya, Zambia, Ethiopia and Malawi.
The results are already visible. In Tanzania, a processor’s products recently received the highest Tanzania food quality certification available. This not only increases their own profits, but also provides access to safer and more nutritious food for Tanzanians. By the end of 2012, the AAIFP hope to assist up to 35 processors to meet national food standards, and in turn help to increase the affordability of nutritious food products available to African consumers.