The British International Investment, the UK’s development finance institution, has announced a $26.5m commitment to AFEX, to address food security in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda.
Addressing journalists in Lagos on Wednesday, the Chief Executive Officer of BII, Nick O’Donohoe, said that the investment would support structural improvement in Africa’s agricultural industry, which would significantly benefit smallholder farmers and lead to improvement in security.
According to O’Donohoe, AFEX currently has over 200 warehouses in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda and serves over 450, 000 farmers.
“BII investment will be used to build 20 warehouses in strategic locations in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. Its capital will also scale warehouse technology and next-generation software that capture post-harvest pricing,” he added.
He maintained that smart storage solutions had the potential to preserve the lifespan of harvest crops and increase the volume of food available.
Donohoe claimed that additional warehouses would provide 230, 000 metric tonnes of storage capacity, enabling up to 200,000 more farmers to access low-cost storage and maximise sales from crop harvests.
He added that the move would help to increase farmer incomes by more than 200 percent.
“Supporting smallholder farmers to achieve a fair wage is vital to ensure they remain in operation, producing more and higher quality crops for local consumption.
“Agriculture in Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda accounts for a quarter of gross domestic product and employs 70 percent of their populations 80 percent of whom are smallholder and subsistence farmers. Currently, farmers face a difficult financial outlook due to macroeconomic uncertainty, limited market access, and poor reliability of sales from crop harvests. Yields have fallen, and farmers’ incomes are increasingly affected by price hikes of agricultural inputs and extreme weather events,” he declared.
He said that the capital would also be used to develop a soybean processing plant in Ibadan and a drying facility in Uganda.